Cape Town - “It was just horrific. I went to see her in the morgue and I didn’t even recognise my own daughter. It was awful, awful. It was like one of the worst horror movies.”
Lilian Fielden, 74, from Kraaifontein struggles to come to terms with the fact that her only daughter, Hilary van Rooyen, was found murdered in her Eversdal home on May 9, beaten with a heavy glass vase.
Police found accountancy tutor Van Rooyen, 52, lying on the floor with no sign of a break-in. Only a cellphone had been taken.
When police viewed CCTV footage, they saw a young man wearing a hoodie and sunglasses enter the property after 11am and leave 40 minutes later.
It transpired that the alleged killer, unemployed Reghard Groenewald from Welgemoed, was an acquaintance of one of Van Rooyen’s sons.
Groenewald, 23, was arrested on May 23 and appeared for the third time last week in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court, which Fielden attended.
“We sat through eight cases before his name came up and every one of those cases was postponed, postponed, postponed. Not one out of any of this lot has got a trial date yet. It’s unbelievable; one for murder, others were for robbery, assault, and who knows what,” said Fielden.
“You speak of the crime rate, it’s beyond belief. In my opinion, if the courts don’t give the sentences that fit the crime, then it’s not going to work, is it?
“I read the other day that a number of police stations are being closed down. Are they crazy? We should be opening more of them, not shutting them down. What is going on? I’ve lived in South Africa for over 42 years. I can’t believe that we got to this,” said Fielden.
She said what was even more shocking was turning around in court and seeing Groenewald and his father sitting behind her.
“There were innocent members of the public and there among us, was this guy. I gave him such a foul look but he is so arrogant, full of himself, you would not believe it. He just stared right back at me,” she added.
Van Rooyen’s death, FIelden said, had left her so vulnerable.
“My daughter was always there, rallying around me when I needed help. That’s gone. My family has lost a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and the guy who did this, what did he lose?”
“He got R3 000 bail and is walking around scot-free. I hope the next time he goes to court, I just hope he gets a trial date. I just want to see justice done for my Hilary. She was a fantastic person.
“There’s just no protection for the public. There’s just nothing a person can do, just go with the flow and hope that the case resolves itself in favour of the victim,” Fielden said.
DA Western Cape community safety spokesperson Mireille Wenger said the slashing of 3000 police posts over the next two years, when police numbers would shrink from 194431 to 191431, indicated the chronic failures in the criminal justice system and it was these failures which led to low conviction rates.
“What kind of skewed priority does the national government have?
“They are cutting detectives and visible police but keeping the same number of police allocated to the VIP protection services that guard the minister and protect politicians instead of prioritising resources to benefit the vulnerable.”
“The police minister may be safe, but the average South African will not be,” said Wenger.