Riku Nortj�. Photo: Masi Losi

Pretoria - Riku Nortjé, the so-called suitcase murderer who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1996, was on Thursday released on parole from the Boksburg community centre after serving 16 years of his life sentence in the Leeuwkop jail.

Shortly before his release, Nortjé told journalists, waiting for him outside, that he was “nervous and first wanted to absorb everything before speaking to the media”.

Shortly after this, Nortjé made his way home via a concealed entrance to avoid the media.

Nortjé, 37, and his brother Jano, 41, were given life sentences after being found guilty of the murder of a 76-year-old missionary, Engel Leendert Bakker.

They became known as the suitcase murderers after Bakker’s body parts were found in a suitcase after it was flung from a train en route to Hoedspruit. The two killed Bakker with a baseball bat and cut him up with a hunting knife.

The Correctional Services Parole Board recommended him for parole as he was a model prisoner and one of Correctional Services’ biggest rehabilitation success stories.

Nortjé left school when he was in Grade 10. In an interview with the Pretoria News during his graduation in 2011 he said there were not many job opportunities at the time and he became involved in crime.

Nortjé now holds a Master’s degree in computer science from Unisa. He graduated with distinction in 2011 and was Correctional Services’ top student.

Between 2001 and 2005 he worked on a Bachelor’s degree in computer sciences and mathematics and graduated with distinction.

In 2006, he moved on to study for a BSc Honours in computer sciences and graduated with a distinction in 2008.His brother, who has since married and had fathered a seven-year-old girl while incarcerated, was not recommended for parole as he previously tried to escape from custody.

Correctional Services spokes-man Ofentse Morwane confirmed Nortjé’s release and said he had requested not to speak to the media.

He added that Nortjé was released under strict bail conditions and would be electronically monitored.

His bail conditions include that he not commit any crime while on parole and not leave the Ekurhuleni municipal area without the permission of Correctional Services.

“Should he violate any of his parole conditions he will be incarcerated again,” Morwane said.

Nortjé’s release had Twitter abuzz with his every step from arriving at the community centre until his release.

Pretoria News