A tribute to top cop Piet Byleveld

26 May 2017

A tribute to top cop Piet Byleveld

The tragic news came yesterday that our country’s most famous super sleuth and most successful serial killer hunter had passed away in hospital after a battle with cancer.

Piet Byleveld, known as Piet Byl, had a 40-year career in the South African Police Service that boasted a 99% success rate in solving some of the most notorious and brutal crimes to have made headlines.

Prior to his retirement in 2010, Byleveld succeeding in apprehending the Knysna serial killers in 1993, the Wemmer Pan serial killer in 2000 (a case that took four years to solve), and the Bruma Lake serial killers in 2002, among others. He was also responsible for the breakthrough in the Leigh Matthews murder case in 2004 and the murder of Pretoria schoolgirl Sheldean Human in 2006.

He was honoured by the International Police Association, the FBI and Scotland Yard for his determination and achievements.

And when it came to creating a TV series about a formidable Afrikaans detective with an uncanny ability to get inside the mind of serial killers, he was the obvious choice for inspiration.

Byleveld served as technical advisor on the crime series Die Byl (all 13 episodes are on Showmax), and he was the inspiration behind Waldemar Schultz’s character, homicide detective Piet van der Bijl.

“The stories and characters in Die Byl are entirely fictional, but thanks to Piet’s input, the end result is frighteningly authentic,” said executive producer Herman Binge. “We had to place our story in an Afrikaans language environment and invent our own murderers and victims. So although he inspired our scriptwriters, we could not use Piet Byleveld’s real-life cases.” But they did borrow his name and nickname as a thank-you.

Piet Byl: we salute you, and we thank you.

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