By Henriette Geldenhuys
The rapists and murderers of 14-year-old schoolgirl Valencia Farmer had unleashed an orgy of violence and sexual brutality on a defenceless young girl, said Judge Siraj Desai before imposing double life sentences in the Cape High Court on two of the convicted men.
In a packed courtroom on Monday Judge Desai imposed double life sentences on Glenville "Bekkies" Faro, 20, and Franklin "Franky" Roberts, 19, and on a third, a 16-year-old, an effective 23 years in jail.
Through their barbaric behaviour they forfeit their right to live in ordinary society, said Judge Desai.
Later tears of relief streamed down the cheeks of Valencia's mother Sylvia as she hugged relatives outside the courtroom.
"I am thankful and happy that everything went so well today. When I woke up this morning, it was a beautiful day outside, and that already lifted my spirits. I believed I was going to receive good news, and I did.
"It's a wonderful day for me," she said.
Sylvia said: "The pain is still great. I miss her every day. I sometimes call out her name, expecting her to be there."
Evidence was that Valencia Farmer had been stabbed 53 times, 40 times in the back, after being gang-raped by at least six people.
Her throat was slit and she was left for dead in a derelict house in Eerste River, Western Cape, on June 26, 1999.
The naked and seriously injured girl managed to crawl to the street, where neighbours found her.
Sylvia was called and comforted her daughter, laying her head down on her chest, stroking her hair and reassuring her that she was with her.
Valencia died a day later in hospital. Farmer said justice had been done.
"It won't bring back my daughter, but I hope it will deter other gang members from doing the same," she said.
Judge Desai said it was rare to encounter crime of such brutality.
"This most reprehensible type of criminal conduct warrants the most severe penalty a court may legitimately impose. If I don't impose the most stringent punishment, I will have failed in my duty to society," said Judge Desai.
He said the blatant cruelty of their crimes diminished any sympathetic considerations, and that they had offered poor attempts to show remorse. The killers showed no mercy for their victim.
The Eerste River community had been severely traumatised by the crime. Their anger had led to them breaking down the house in which Valencia was raped and murdered, said Judge Desai. "I appreciate this tragic illustration of community anger."
Sylvia was joined in court by three of her 10 sisters - Elizabeth Miller, Maria Diljee and Sandra Africa - as well as the chairperson of the Greater Blue Downs community policing forum, which includes Eerste River, Melvern de Bruyn.
She thanked members of the community for attending the trial with her, for their support and prayers, adding: "All of that has helped me to pull through."
Sylvia said it had been difficult to attend the trial, especially when she had to listen to the murderers testifying a few metres from where she had sat in court, but "I had to stick it out, for Valencia's sake; I owed it to her".
She said she had become over-protective of her remaining child, Ulrich, 8.
Investigating officer Eddie Clark accompanied Sylvia to Valencia's grave before sentencing.
"It was very emotional. I went to say goodbye. It brought back so many feelings," she said.
Clark said he was satisfied with the sentences.
A 23-year prison term for the 16-year-old was the highest sentence imposed on a juvenile.
"To me, the case has been an achievement. It was one of my first High Court cases," he said.
The police forum's De Bruyn said the sentences sent out a clear message that "gang members have no place in Eerste River".
He called on the police to deploy more officers in Eerste River "so that we don't have a repeat of what happened in 1999".