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Thriller solved: New Zealand backpacker who died 48 years in the past recognized by household

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Peter Kelly, from Whangarei, died in South Africa in 1974. The previous particular person to see him alive has been looking for his family since – and positioned them this week. {Photograph} / Provided

A secret New Zealand backpacker who died in South Africa 48 a few years in the past has been acknowledged.

A South African expatriate who witnessed his dying at his Johannesburg home produced a group appeal by means of the Herald this 7 days to uncover the male, recognized solely as “Pink”.

Family members and good associates have contacted the Herald to say the man was Peter Kelly, from Whangārei.

“It was fairly emotional,” acknowledged Kelly’s sister Colleen Wech, of the second she examine the quick article within the Northern Advocate. Her voice quivering, she defined she immediately recognised the male as her brother.

Kelly died following unintentionally slipping seven storeys from a balcony in Hillbrow, Johannesburg in 1974.

The final man to see him alive, Tony Brebner*, mentioned he had been haunted by his dying ever provided that and skilled unsuccessfully tried to maintain monitor of down his members of the family for many years. He skilled solely happy him instances earlier and didn’t know his full establish or every other info.

Wech talked about the family under no circumstances had closure proper after her brother’s loss of life. When New Zealand maintained diplomatic ties with South Africa all via apartheid, dialog was strained and it was tough to get any information out of the place.

The family have been being presently grieving the decline of Peter’s older brother, Mike, a medical faculty scholar who’s believed to have drowned within the Whanganui Hospital swimming pool 4 a few years beforehand, aged 21.

South African Police in the end contacted their New Zealand counterparts proper after Kelly’s dying, and Colleen remembers a late-night go to from regulation enforcement officers to their Whangārei dwelling to interrupt the information to the mom and father.

The police advisable that Kelly be buried in Johannesburg. His human physique must return as cargo and there ended up a number of flights between New Zealand and South Africa, this implies it may very well be two weeks upfront of his general physique arrived again once more.

Kelly was buried in a Johannesburg cemetery, and Brebner acknowledged he was the one particular person on the graveside who was not an formal. A service was additionally held in Whangārei, with out having a system and with out having considerably consciousness of how Kelly died.

“It was essentially the most peculiar sensation,” reported Wech.

“It was an horrible time. I attempt to keep in mind a calendar 12 months handed and my dad expressing ‘I’d simply admire to know what genuinely occurred’.”

Their father died in 1975, and their mom died in 2004. A 12 months afterwards, Wech went to Johannesburg to hint her brothers’ final instances and talked about Mass at his graveside.

A photo of Peter Kelly from a family scrapbook, which includes a newspaper article from the time of his death. Photo / Supplied
An image of Peter Kelly from a family scrapbook, which contains a newspaper posting from the time of his lack of life. {Photograph} / Geared up

An article from the time of his lack of life mentioned Kelly was a eager sportsman, representing Auckland schoolboys in cricket and the Hikurangi rugby membership.

Ray Tewake, from Whangarei, labored with him as linesman on the submit workplace atmosphere in Whangārei proper earlier than Kelly went abroad.

“He was difficult scenario, great feeling of humour, incredible to have a beer with. And he was the one one I reliable to generate my vehicle, a Zephyr I think about it was.”

In a letter despatched property to family members, Kelly spoke in regards to the unfairness of apartheid South Africa, stating black South Africans have been being “despised” and handled “fairly badly”.

He wrote that he gave a black man a expertise residence to Soweto and that he was appalled by the poverty and cramped residing. He accomplished the letter saying he was touring to England earlier than lengthy and would mail his new sort out to the household. He by no means ever designed it to England, dying a a number of instances later.

Brebner, now dwelling in Australia, deliberate to debate to Colleen Wech this week. He talked about it might convey him good peace proper after 45 a very long time to clarify to Crimson’s story.

“I are unable to think about how prolonged I’ve held on to this.”

The Johannesburg suburb of Hillbrow in 2014. Photo / 123rf
The Johannesburg suburb of Hillbrow in 2014. Picture / 123rf

*Brebner beforehand utilized the pseudonym Brett