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Pretoria - Two of the “Waterkloof Four” clung to their freedom until the last minute, reporting back to the Zonderwater Prison outside Cullinan six minutes before their midday deadline.
Reinach Tiedt and Gert van Schalkwyk, were ordered by the Pretoria High Court to report back to prison by noon on Monday after almost two years of house arrest.
The two sped into the prison grounds in two SUVs. The first one, a Lexus, presumably with Tiedt as a passenger, had its back windows tinted. Van Schalkwyk’s Ford SUV was right behind.
The speeding SUV was driven by an unidentified woman wearing dark sunglasses. Before it turned into the premises, van Schalkwyk briefly looked out the window at the media gathered near the prison.
James Smalberger, chief deputy commissioner at Correctional Services, confirmed the two had reported back to the prison.
Smalberger said the pair would continue to serve their 12-year sentences as if they had not been released. Before they were freed in December 2011 when their sentences were converted to correctional supervision, they had served under three and a half years.
The two had been convicted with Christoff Bekker and Frikkie du Preez of murdering a homeless man in a Pretoria park in 2001. They were 16 at the time. Bekker and Du Preez are serving their sentences in the Pretoria Central Prison.
Smalberger said Van Schalkwyk and Tiedt would return to the medium security section.
They would have their original privileges reinstated, based on good behaviour. “They will not have to start from scratch to prove themselves responsible enough to have visitors or phone calls.”
The two were expected to make an urgent petition to the high court on Monday morning to maintain their freedom, but their lawyer, Jenny Brewis, said the idea had been ditched. “We realised that time is not our side to lodge an appeal. By the time our application is heard, they would qualify for parole.”
The pair are to be up for parole in February, when they would have served half their sentences and taking into account a six-month general remission. The time spent out of jail was viewed as serving part of their sentences as they had been under correctional supervision, Smalberger said.
The two leave behind lives they had started rebuilding. Van Schalkwyk was planning to get married. Tiedt was general manager of a private company, Prima, that supplies flour to bread makers. He was instrumental in starting the business and had four employees.
Van Schalkwyk holds shares in several companies. He had also resumed his rugby career, playing professionally for the Pumas Rugby Union. He resigned and started a rugby club in Pretoria east, known as the Eastern Eagles. He also bought and developed property with a friend near Boschkop. It has a supermarket, a takeaway restaurant, car wash facility and office space. He employed 24 people.