Police officer Leslie Cilliers was killed when responding to a robbery in 2003.
Police officer Leslie Cilliers was killed when responding to a robbery in 2003.

Slain cop’s daughter pleads with Ramaphosa not to release her dad’s killer

By Opinion Time of article published Feb 22, 2021

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Police officer Leslie Cilliers was killed when responding to a robbery in 2003.

DEAR Mr President

I write to you because I fear that even with all the support of our community, friends family and SAPS colleagues of the late Inspector Leslie Cilliers (my father), our pleas may fall on deaf ears.

In your national addresses, you often praise the work that the men and woman in blue do, to protect the people of this country.

So, when a well-respected, brave and humble member of the SAPS is brutally murdered, how is it that one of his convicted murderer’s can be considered for an early release on parole?

I don’t consider a policeman’s life to be more valuable than any other, but this was a man that died in uniform, on duty, doing his job.

He lost his life for that. And now it seems that the convict has the right to be considered for parole. Parole should be a privilege for lesser crimes, not a right.

I ask that you please look into the legislation on this in our country. I believe that currently, if a serious crime was committed prior to October 2004 and the convict has served more than 12 years, they can be considered for parole?

How is this possible and how is this justified for crimes like murder, rape, robbery. Is this because prisons are too full to keep everyone locked up. In that case, consider bringing back the death penalty and watch crime rates reduce.

If not, please hear our plea to ensure that the most dangerous criminals who have committed such heinous crimes serve their full sentences.

You often share your stance on domestic violence and violence against women and children. While I share your sentiments on this, I ask, what are your sentiments on cold blooded murderers?

When there is no death sentence and when multiple life sentences are made to run concurrently therefore only being 25 years, how can the convicted killer then still apply for this time to be reduced further?

Please don’t release Xolani Kumalo on early parole. No matter how much he might have reformed, he killed my dad, Leslie Cilliers on July 23, 2003. He was a policeman who gave his life to serving and protecting our community.

Kumalo felt nothing to murder my dad, in cold blood, intentionally and for that he needs to bear the full consequences of his actions.

In lieu of a death sentence that does not exist in South Africa, he received multiple life sentences of 25 years each (as his crimes included murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, etc). Had these sentences run consecutively, he would never have seen the outside of a prison again.

But probably because prisons are full and this is how it works; his sentences have run concurrently meaning he would be incarcerated for a life sentence of only 25 years.

I find it insulting to law abiding citizens as well as the men and women in blue that put their lives at risk daily, for him to expect for this sentence to be further reduced.

If Kumalo has truly reformed, he would be able to take accountability for his actions and accept his punishment (his 25 year sentence) in full and not be trying to get out sooner.

My dad was shown no mercy (for doing nothing more than his job) by Kumalo. He was shot with an AK47, while he stood in front of him in full uniform, on duty.

This was while my dad and his partner had pulled the getaway vehicle off after Kumalo and his assailants had successfully gotten away after robbing a bank.

My dad is gone forever. He will never be back. He was not there when I graduated from school or there to walk me down the aisle. He never got to meet his grandson who has been named after him. My mother is a widow and my grandparents have lost their son. He is not here for all the little things. His murderers deserve to spend their lives in prison but certainly not to be let out before a full 25-year sentence is served.

My family are all still very broken by the brutal murder of my father. A father, husband, son, brother, friend, and respected member of our community was lost that day. My dad was only 38 years old with so much time left to live. I was just 17 years old with so much more to learn from my father. Kumalo took away a lifetime of memories yet to be made.

My father’s death may not have been pre-meditated, but their bank robbery was.

The moment that AK47 was packed, he knew he intended to use it, should anyone get in his way. And my dad, doing his job as a SAPS officer, did just that.

He lost his life that easily. Kumalo’s natural instincts kicked in upon being caught, and that was to shoot and kill an innocent person. He has it in him. It will always be in him. So, we will never be certain that he won’t do this again and even if he does not even if he is completely reformed and remorseful now, he should sit out his full 25-year life sentence which is already lenient given his crimes were the worst kind.

My dad was given a death sentence which he did not deserve. We were given a life without him. Kumalo made those decision for us. He is getting off easy with 25 years in prison.

When he gets out, he will have the rest of his life with his family, my dad was denied that. He does not deserve an early parole, no matter how apologetic or reformed he is/claims to be.

He needs to be held to task for his actions. He can spend his last years being a mentor for those newly coming in, if he is reformed. But not out here.

Set the example. Show that killing someone is not something one can get out early for. There should be no consideration or negotiation and we should not need to plea against this.

If you let him out on parole early, you are showing the criminals of South Africa and our youth, the next generation, that it's okay, there is always a way to get off easier.

In many other countries this crime would have resulted in a death sentence.

He needs to count his blessings and accept his full 25-year sentence. My father had no chance or choice. My son will never know the man he hears so many stories about. A man that did so much for everyone around him. The stories still pour in, 18 years later.

It just goes to show how many lives my dad impacted. We do not mourn alone as a family. A community misses him and there is a gap now.

Kumalo took something away from all of us. My dad went out of his way to help people, always. Nothing was too big or too small for him. He was always involved in community projects yet most of them we only heard about after his passing, as he was not one to brag about his good deeds.

He never sought fame or fortune. It was just his life, that is who he was. That is why we have received the support that we have from our community. We still live with the effects of this loss. The wounds are still fresh. Time has not healed. Our only peace of mind is that his killers are still behind bars. Please don’t take that away from us when it has not been 25 years yet.

The question is not whether we can forgive. That is irrelevant. The real question is whether justice will be served with a full sentence of 25 years being served with or without forgiveness, that is necessary. If not, then accountability has not been taken.

I am pleading with you, not just for me and my family’s sake but for every family that may find themselves in this situation, where their loved one’s killer could be let out before a 25-year sentence has been fully served?

To have so much support for my dad’s case alone and to not use it to get your attention on a matter important to us all, would be a wasted effort. I want to see this effect change, real change in our failed justice system, not just for my dad, but for every victim of the most serious crimes taking place on a daily basis.

I am asking that you please look into our current legislation on this. Please see how the system is failing us as tax paying, law abiding citizens of South Africans. Please amend these laws. Not just to protect the SAPS officers but to protect every citizen from having convicted murderers, rapists, armed robbers, etc roaming our streets earlier than they should.

Crime is at an all time high as it is, why make it even worse? Why should the law be in the favour of convicted criminals and not in the favour of the victims?

Please do not allow the release of my father’s killer before he has completed his 25-year sentence. I beg you.

Roxanne van Eck

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