E-book questions how 2 Africans businessmen died in Springfield lodge
Two South African men on a motorcycle tour along historic Route 66 were found dead in separate rooms of a Springfield hotel in 2015.
How they died was not immediately apparent.
Six weeks later, the Springfield Police Department announced that tests by the CDC had solved the mystery: the two men – Gerrit Strydom, 45 and James Bethel, 44 – died of cerebral malaria.
It appeared that the two men were bitten by infected mosquitoes while on a fishing trip in Africa, got sick and died after a trip to Springfield.
Case closed. At least it looked like that.
When the news leader requested the full investigation report on the case last month, a police spokeswoman replied that the case is still open five years later – and the FBI has taken over the investigation.
A book on global corruption published last month said Strydom and Bethel were potential witnesses in an international fraud case.
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The book “Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Took Over the World” states that Strydom and Bethel worked for the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation – a mining group investigated by the UK Bureau of Serious Fraud – until shortly before they died.
Tom Burgis, the journalist who wrote the book, investigated the deaths of Strydom and Bethel as part of his coverage and concluded that there is essentially no chance they will die from malaria.
According to an expert interviewed for the book, there are many factors that determine how quickly malaria develops after a mosquito bite, and that two people would get malaria at the same time and then die within hours of each other when bitten by the same mosquito. Tests by the CDC ruled out this possibility.
The book also states that the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation had a representative come to Springfield to help the police with their investigation and paid for prominent medical examiner Michael Baden to investigate the case before the samples went to the CDC.
According to the book, the UK Serious Fraud Office was concerned about the chain of custody and whether the samples might have been tampered with before reaching the CDC.
In addition, the CDC said it found malaria in Bethel’s and Strydom’s blood but never concluded that malaria was the cause of death. Apparently the police made that jump, according to Burgis – who also claims that full toxicological reports were never put on the file.
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In a recent article, Burgis wrote that there were “suggestions that Bethel and Strydom may have been poisoned”.
Springfield police spokeswoman Jasmine Bailey said the department was aware of the book “Kleptopia” but declined to comment on her claims about the local case.
Regional FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton also declined to comment, “in line with our standard practice of neither confirming nor denying the existence of our investigations.”
According to Reuters, the Serious Fraud Office has been investigating the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation since 2013 on allegations of misconduct in the acquisition of mineral goods in Africa.
Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, founded by three billionaires from Kazakhstan, has denied wrongdoing, according to Reuters.
Burgis wrote in an article for the Financial Times earlier that year that there is a third mysterious death related to the investigation by the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation – a geologist, who was also a potential witness, died in a car fire in South Africa in 2016, the former Senior investigators in the fraud case also feared to have been poisoned at some point.