Parole officer apologises: ‘Michaela Williams would still be alive if I had done my job’
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Cape Town – A parole officer has apologised to the family of Michaela Williams for not taking action against the 12-year-old girl’s rapist and killer when he had broken his parole conditions.
Officer Wayne Lekeur was testifying in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday to explain why the family was not consulted when granting Steven Fortune parole.
The mother of the victim, who was raped, stabbed and left for dead, said Michaela would still be alive if Lekeur had done his job correctly.
The Grade 6 learner disappeared in January last year while playing in front of her home in Pelikan Park.
Two days later, cops arrested 49-year-old Fortune from New Horizon, who led police to where he’d left Michaela’s body in 9th Avenue, Schaapkraal.
She had been bludgeoned to death with a concrete slab which was found at the scene.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, murder and kidnapping last December.
Fortune had been on parole for three years at the time of his arrest, after spending 12 years behind bars.
He had moved to his brother’s house, five doors away from his first victim before he moved to Pelican Park where he killed Michaela.
The girl’s 47-year-old mother had approached Lekeur and told him that Fortune being in Mitchells Plain was in violation of his parole conditions.
Mom Beatrice Adams said: “We were never informed about his release and when I heard the rumour, I went to the investigating officer and he was all in the dark.
“I went to him and told him that Fortune can’t be near us, especially my child.
“And he moved to his mother’s house in Pelikan Park, and Lekeur promised to put an electronic tag on him so that his movements could be monitored.
“But the man came back two more times to my area and I went back to the parole officer and he made empty promises.
“Lekeur didn’t do his job because if he did put the tag on as he promised, then Micheala would be alive today.”
On the witness stand, Lekeur was grilled on why he didn’t take action when Fortune had violated his parole conditions.
Lekeur said: “Before the prisoner was released, I received papers from Worcester prison and I went to confirm Fortune’s address and asked the people at that house if they knew him.
“There was no address for the victim, so I could not go there.
“But after the victim’s mom told me that they were from the area, I immediately removed him from the area and he went to his mother’s house in Pelikan Park.”
Judge Robert Henney asked Lekeur why he didn’t take action when the mother told him about the violation.
“We would have needed a statement from her and also evidence that he was in fact in the area,” he answered.
“The evidence could be in the form of a photo or video. Without evidence, he would have still been set free.”
Henney then informed Lekeur that Fortune had allegedly confessed to raping nine other girls while he was on parole between 2017 and 2020.
“A psychiatrist testified that the accused reported to him that under your watch he had nine other offences, while released on parole. And he only appeared in court for this case,” said the judge.
An emotional Lekeur apologised: “I felt for the victims because I’m a father, too. I’m sorry about everything.”
The case was postponed until May 26 for counsel to address the court on declaration of the accused as a dangerous criminal and sentencing is expected thereafter.