Cape Town - Norman “Afzal” Simons, the man dubbed The Station Strangler, could be a free man by next year.
He will be considered for parole in 2015 by Correctional Services and the Parole Board.
It will mark 20 years since the former Mitchells Plain school teacher was sentenced to 25 years for murder and 10 years for kidnapping.
Today, Simons is still viewed as one of the most dangerous serial killers to have walked the streets after the decomposing bodies of 22 boys were found across the Cape Flats between 1986 and 1994.
But Simons was only convicted of one murder – that of 9-year-old Elroy van Rooyen.
The young victims were all sodomised and found face down in shallow graves with their hands tied behind their backs.
Simons, in his late forties, is doing his time at Drakenstein prison in Paarl, where he is also teaching and mentoring inmates.
Simphiwe Xako, head of communications for the Department of Correctional Services, confirms Simons may be eligible for parole in months.
“The offender is serving a life sentence and is currently incarcerated at Drakenstein maximum,” he says.
“No parole will be granted to him at this stage and will only be considered for possible parole during 2015.”
The killer’s reign of terror started in October 1986 with the discovery of the body of Jonathan Claasen, 14, near Modderdam station in Bellville.
Altogether six bodies were found that year.
* In January 1987, Yusuf Hoffman, 14, was found in bushes near the sewerage plant in Mitchell’s Plain.
* Mario Thomas, from Manenberg, was discovered in a field in Sarepta near Kuils River in that same month.
* In April, an unidentified boy was found near Modderdam station.
* In June, the body of Freddie Cleaves, 12, was discovered in a ditch in Belhar.
* In August, Samuel Nqaba, 15, was found in bushes off Modderdam Road in Bellville South.
* In October, an unidentified boy, aged about 15, was found near Modderdam station.
In 1988, only one body was found – that of Calvin Spire, nine, in a field near the University of the Western Cape in Bellville South.
In October 1992, the ninth victim, Jacobus Louw, 10, of Beacon Valley in Mitchell’s Plain, was found in the dunes near Mnandi Beach.
In January 1994, Cape Town was rocked by the discovery of 11 bodies in the Strangler’s so-called killing fields on the outskirts of Mitchells Plain.
The first was that of an unidentified man.
This was followed by Elino Sprinkle, 10, of Lentegeur, and an unidentified boy found in the field next to Lentegeur Shopping Centre.
Next were Jeremy Benjamin, 12, of Westridge; Donovan Swartz, 12, of Beacon Valley; and Jeremy Smith of Rocklands.
Then on January 27, one single horrific day, police found six bodies – those of Fabian Wilmore, 8; Owen Hoffman, 10; Neville Samaai, 14; Marcellino Cupido, 9; Elroy van Rooyen, 9; and an unidentified boy.
Now Neville’s relatives only have newspaper clippings of his burial and disappearance. His sister Jean Samaai says she will never forget Simons.
“We will never forgive him, he took our brother away,” she said.
“We knew Simons, he was Neville’s teacher. And he dated a girl who lived opposite our grandmother in Tafelsig.”
She wonders how the State can be sure the convicted child killer is reformed and will not strike again.
For Stella Japhta, 70, victim Donovan Swartz’ foster mother, Simons’ release will only mean heartache.
“They called him the faceless man… he buried my child with his face down, he took my child’s face away,” she said.
“Hyt my bitter seer gemaak (He hurt me). I have forgiven him, I placed my hand on the Bible and I asked God to help me forgive him. But who will he hurt next time?”