Prison authorities say the man known on the Cape Flat as the Station Strangler won’t be released any time soon, despite being up for parole for the past four years.
The Daily Voice can reveal that Norman Afzal Simons will in all probability serve his complete sentence of 35 years in jail, as he is considered a menace to society by authorities.
Simons has already served 25 years of his sentence, and any parole application from him will first have to be approved by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha.
The Department of Correctional Services confirmed Simons, 52, is being kept at Drakenstein Maximum Prison where he has been teaching and mentoring inmates since 1995.
Simons was arrested in 1994 and a year later, after a brief trial, was convicted for the kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Elroy van Rooyen.
In January, when the Daily Voice inquired about his parole, the Department scrambled to confirm whether Simons was, in fact, still in their custody and claimed they could not find him on the system.
DCS Western Cape spokesman, Simphiwe Xako, later confirmed there had been an “error” and that Simons was indeed still serving his life sentence.
“Kindly note that we have ascertained that claims that the records or documents of the offender in question have gone missing are not true and absolutely devoid of the truth.
“The offender is currently incarcerated at Drakenstein Correctional Facility,” he said.
He confirmed Simons had applied for parole, but it had been denied.
“The Department of Correctional Services will always maintain the highest security standards, ensuring that all South Africans are safe from any form of crime.
“As far as his parole is concerned, the parole board has to submit its recommendations to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services.
“To date, there is no decision made by the minister to place the offender on parole.”
In 1995, after being on trial for three months, Simons, who was a teacher and can speak seven languages, was sentenced to 25 years for murder and 10 years for kidnapping.
He became eligible for parole in 2015.
On 12 February 2016, Xako stated that Simons had applied for parole: “No parole has been approved for Norman ‘Afzal’ Simons, and we have not yet received an outcome of his parole application submitted in 2015 from the minister’s office.”
The Station Strangler became a household name after the bodies of 22 young boys were found across the Cape Flats from 1986 to 1994.
Their bodies were all found in the same position face down in a shallow grave with their hands tied behind their backs and their pants wound tightly around their necks.
They had been strangled and sodomised.
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 South.
Then, 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.
Three months after nine-year-old Elroy’s body was discovered, Simons, a Grade 5 teacher at Alpine Primary School in Eastridge was arrested for his murder.
He stood trial for only Elroy’s death as police lacked evidence in the other cases.
Since his incarceration, Simons’s lawyer Koos Louw, his mother Evelyn, his sister and some of the parents of the victims have passed away, without ever getting answers.
When the Daily Voice visited the Beacon Valley home of victim Donovan Swartz, 12, recently, we learnt that his mother, Stella Jaftha, had died in 2017 at the age of 73 due to illness.
Stella and Katherine Samaai, mother to 14-year-old victim Neville, believed Simons was their children’s killer.
Sadly, Katherine also passed away 10 years ago.
Neville’s sister, Elizabeth Samaai, 36, says there is good reason to believe Simons killed her brother.
In May 2014, her sister Jean told the Daily Voice that they knew Simons as he was Neville’s teacher and also dated a girl who lived opposite their grandmother in Tafelsig.
“I was very small and just started school and I remember him visiting our home on three occasions while my mother was not there. He was dark of complexion and had a scar across his face,” Elizabeth says.
She says she will continue her mother’s legacy to find the truth.
“My mother used to walk to the courts for answers and when she became ill, I gave up my work to look after her.
“On her death bed, she said she buried a son without getting answers. And when she closed her eyes, she said she will leave it in God’s hands.”
Nathaniel Keet is the father of another alleged Strangler victim, Baden Keet, 12, who vanished 26 years ago in Lentegeur.
The boy had been staying with a pastor and his wife while his parents were divorcing.
Nathaniel says it is his hope that Simons will one day reveal where his son is buried.
“Whether he is inside or out, I don’t have answers of where my son is, where he is buried or who is responsible,” the heartbroken dad said.