‘Barbie’ wants to be home for ChristmasComment on this story
Cezanne Visser, better known as Advocate Barbie, will know by Friday whether she will possibly spend Christmas at home.
Judge Tatu Makgoka will then determine whether Visser will be a step closer to freedom.
On Monday Visser asked the Pretoria High Court to declare her a suitable person to have the remainder of her seven-year jail sentence converted to correctional supervision.
If the judge agrees to do this, he will refer the matter to the trial court, which will then further deal with the issue of converting her sentence to a non-custodial one. This is expected to include house arrest.
The judge was told yesterday that Visser, apart from being a model prisoner, showed remorse towards her victims, who were children when she sexually abused them more than a decade ago.
According to her counsel, she has written letters to them from jail in which she expressed her remorse, but the letters weren’t posted by the prison authorities.
Johann Engelbrecht, SC, told Judge Makgoka that he should find that Visser was a fit and proper person to serve the remainder of her sentence outside jail, as she was rehabilitated and proved to be a first-class prisoner. She even had a job waiting if she was to be released, he said.
He asked the judge not to refer the matter back to the parole board, which earlier turned down her bid to have the remainder of her sentence converted into correctional supervision.
Engelbrecht said that by referring the matter back, things would be delayed, which would mean that Visser would have to wait much longer before a decision was made regarding her immediate future outside jail.
He said Visser had been railroaded into her parole hearing, as she had been notified about it only seven days before it was to take place. She had insufficient time to prepare.
According to Engelbrecht, the board was biased when it turned down her application for an early release, as it did not have sufficient documentation before it to come to an informed decision. The board did not have a psychological or a social worker report regarding Visser, nor did it have an offender profile of her.
Judge Makgoka at this point commented that the court was in no better position regarding this than the parole board had been.
But Engelbrecht said the court had to decide on the information before it. “On the papers before you she is a fit and proper person to have the remainder of her sentence converted,” he said.
He pointed out that Visser held a “lecturing post” in jail and that she was involved in a lot of activities.
The parole board found that Visser was not ready for life outside prison, as she was “a danger to society and the community”. This was questioned by Engelbrecht, who said there was nothing to suggest that she was not a fit and proper person. He also said there was no indication the community did not want her “outside”.
Naomi Manaka, for Correctional Services, pointed out that it was a privilege, not a right, to have a sentence converted to correctional supervision. She said Visser had been considered for early release, but she was refused as the parole board found she was not ready. She added this was in any event a decision for the parole board and not for the court.
Manaka said Visser was an advocate, although not practising any longer, but she should have prepared for her parole board hearing as she knew what it was all about. Correctional Services earlier remarked in this regard that Visser “could not have expected to come and dance”.
Manaka said the offences had been committed against people who were then children, and who had been vulnerable as they were in places of safety. Also, Visser committed the offences repeatedly, not only once, she said.
The first step of rehabilitation was remorse, Manaka said. “We do not lock up and throw away the keys. We look at rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.”
Manaka said writing letters to the victims didn’t excuse Visser. “She must not do this for the parole board. She must do it for herself, for her peace of mind. She must say, ‘I do this so I can live with myself’.”