Local councillor and PI Rick Crouch’s CV reads like a Hollywood script …
story james siddall photograph adi weerheim
He has his own Wikipedia entry. He is listed on Who’s Who Southern Africa. National Geographic Channel has listed him as number six on its list of the World’s Top 10 Bounty Hunters. He is a qualified commercial pilot. And in California he has been dubbed “PI to the Stars.”
Yet sitting behind his desk in his office in Gillitts, Rick Crouch comes across as unassuming, understated, modest.
Of course, many of us in the Upper Highway area might best know him as the DA councillor for Ward 10 – and an exceptionally active, effective councillor at that – which includes Kloof, Hillcrest, Winston Park and Gillitts.
“My councillor role is a part-time one,” stresses Rick, “even though I do get around 150 emails and 20 to 30 phone calls a day from residents. People will call me at 11 at night or one in the morning, which is a pet peeve. You wouldn’t call your doctor at 11 at night, and most people don’t understand that it’s a part-time job with a part-time salary.
“Something else most residents don’t understand is that as a councillor we’re not allowed to instruct municipal employees to do anything. We can only ask,” he adds.
But for Rick, being a councillor is his way of giving back to the community. “I wanted to help people,” he explains.
And indeed, Rick has an illustrious history of helping people – including fighting the apartheid regime.
“I was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1980s, and there were three attempts on my life by government forces. When this started impacting my family, I thought it would be better for me to leave,” he says.
Rick first landed in New York and then went to Miami, where he was notified that a South African hit squad was aware he was there. So leaving his belongings – bar a backpack – at a Greyhound station, he hitched to California.
Now Rick’s story – and just the American chapter of his exceptionally eventful life alone – is worthy of a book. In fact, he mentions the possibility of one in the fullness of time. But to greatly summarise things, in Los Angeles he became a private investigator.
And not just your common-or-garden
PI either, but one working on a series of high-profile cases that even included assisting the FBI and the US Marshals. Meanwhile, the roll of A-list celebrities he’s worked with is quite simply dazzling. They include the likes of Winona Ryder and the late Michael Jackson.
“He was the most famous client I had and was not what you might think when you met him one-on-one,” says Rick of the legendary Jackson. “He didn’t have that high-pitched squeaky voice in person, he was highly intelligent and he wasn’t a child molester, but the victim of extortion. He was also a very giving person.”
Adds Rick: “The problem with Michael Jackson was that he essentially never had a childhood because of the way he was raised. That’s why he bought his ranch, Neverland, and that’s why he related so well to kids.”
Rick’s LA office is still very active, but he decided to come back to South Africa in 2008 – along with his American-born wife and two children – to go into politics.
“I decided that the DA was the party I identified with the most, and I thought I could make a difference,” as he says.
Of course, besides his role as a councillor, Rick continues to function as a PI through his local office Rick Crouch & Associates.
“As a private investigator, no day is the same and no case is the same. One minute you could be following a vehicle from the airport to a hotel, tracking a cheating partner, and the next you could be sifting through archives in a library or scanning online databases on a missing person’s case,” he continues.
“Rick Crouch & Associates serves South Africa from coast to coast, and I enjoy the work I do. To top if off, my kids think I am really cool!” *
076 449 5263 www.rickcrouch.co.zaTags: DA counsillor, Democratic Alliance, Michael Jackson, National Geographic, Rick Crouch, Rick Crouch & Associates, upper Highway