South Africa's internet community called to solve Perdeberg Winery's zebra-kidnapping case

Not too long ago, Merlot, the famed zebra who appears on every bottle of sumptuous Perdeberg wine, was kidnapped from the Paarl winery's historic premises. Riaan Moller, Perdeberg's award-winning winemaker, went to the web for help, setting up www.themissingzebra.co.za to galvanise South Africa's five million-strong internet community into action. This week, there is a new twist in the story, involving new clues and a missing BlackBerry.
“It's terrible. Merlot has always been a symbol of our success,” said Moller, battling to hold back the tears as he addressed the media recently. “He's been our mascot, our muse, for too long now for us to allow this to happen.”

Weekly clues and weekly rewards

The Paarl police, headed by the intrepid super-cop, Detective Swart, have been hot on the trail of the kidnapper since January this year. The public has been growing increasingly involved in the story, with the kidnapper's clues being posted on The Missing Zebra website each Monday for the past nine weeks. Curiously, each of the clues lead to www.perdeberg.co.za, with the answers hidden in amongst the pages of Perdeberg's main site. Similar to Mel Gibson in ‘Ransom', Moller is rewarding the public by giving away a reward for the successful recovery of his beloved Merlot. Moller has already given away 11 cases of wine to 11 randomly selected participants in the campaign - as well as given vouchers to every single person who has assisted since the website went live.

A new twist: the Kidnapper's BlackBerry lost in Cape Town

Interest around the case is reaching fever pitch in the last month since it appears Swart's team have been closing in on the culprit. This weekend, the kidnapper narrowly escaped a police ambush was foiled at Cellucity at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The kidnapper was purchasing a brand new BlackBerry phone, but only managed to get away with the box.

This week, there is a new twist in the case, with Swart receiving an anonymous tip-off that the kidnapper's BlackBerry box has been found. The tip-off was accompanied by the intriguing message:

‘No sign of hooves, no whisper of a neigh,
Only footsteps from where the trendsetters rove

The kidnapper dropped a box in a place in the Bay,
Not red, not ochre, not purple, not mauve'


Swart says that he is so anxious to find the box in order to lift fingerprints that he is giving the BlackBerry away to the first person who finds the BlackBerry's packaging. “We fink this is the final step to catching this bliksem!” said Swart yesterday. “The tip-off is giving us a new clue each day, so please people, go to the website www.themissingzebra.co.za and help us!”

“And fanks to those who've helped us so far - we are close!” adds Swart.

Go to the website www.themissingzebra.co.za to get involved.



25 Mar 2009 12:46

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