Activists concerned as child killer may still roam the streets, 11 years after Jennifer Williams’s murder

The case of Jennifer Williams, 12, of Parkwood remains cold. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

The case of Jennifer Williams, 12, of Parkwood remains cold. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Apr 8, 2023


Cape Town - Activists are concerned 12-year-old Jennifer Williams’s killer may still be roaming the streets more than a decade after her death and could have raped or murdered other children.

Activists are now calling for the cold case to receive proper attention and for police to finally charge the man who was allegedly found with evidence linking him to the crime scene.

The beautiful little girl’s decomposed body was discovered in a field in January 2013 after she went missing in December 2012.

A 63-year-old neighbour who was police’s prime suspect was later set free due to a lack of evidence and never stood trial.

This week, Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi confirmed that the case was receiving the attention of the police. “The circumstances surrounding the incident cited in your enquiry are still under investigation. The investigating officer in the matter is pursuing all available leads in a bid to ensure a breakthrough.

“Anyone with information that can assist with the investigation is kindly requested to call the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Jan Coetzee, on 082 767 5955 or alternatively call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.”

Two years ago, Eric Ntabazalila of the National Prosecuting Authority told Weekend Argus the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was reviewing and studying the docket.

He added the docket had been brought to the attention of the DPP’s office in April 2021.

This week Ntabazalila said he was awaiting feedback from judicial staff at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.

Activist and founder and director of Western Cape Missing Children’s Unit, Candice van der Rheede, said they were worried that the killer was still roaming the streets.

“This is both sad and frustrating because there will be so much evidence pointing to that person. When it comes to court cases, there are such criteria and how you submit the evidence,” she said.

“The laws of this country are aimed at protecting the criminals.

“The sad reality is the person who killed this child is still walking around in the streets.

“You cannot help but feel paranoid and fear for the lives of your children because the killer is still out there like many of these child murder cases.

“How do we not know that this man, the killer has not murdered another child or raped another child.

“It is sickening. If we look at the case of Stephen Fortune, people allowed him inside their home not knowing what he did and where he was inside prison and for what and then he raped and murdered, Michaela Williams of Pelican Park.

“If they had known that he was inside prison, no one would have allowed him inside their home.

“That child could have still been alive.

“These criminals know they are going to get away with these crimes because of the laws in this country. They know the evidence will be lost or a detective will mess up a statement or they will get parole after a few years.”

Fortune was convicted and sentenced in 2006 for another child’s rape and attempted murder and was granted parole in 2017.

He admitted during the trial of Michaela’s case that during his release period, he had raped nine girls.

He was sentenced to three life terms for the rape, murder and kidnapping of Michaela in 2020.

Neighbour and friend Chrystolene Johannes and Rachel Williams. Rachel is the mom of 12 year old Jennifer Williams who was murdered in 2012. The family believes a neighbour killed her by dousing her with acid and hiding her body inside a bin before dumping it and that police did not do a proper investigation. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Jennifer’s mother, Rachel Williams, and her friend, Christolene Johannes, previously told Weekend Argus they were outraged that the man had been freed, claiming the police had the evidence after potential witnesses told what had happened to the child.

The women said they had seen the suspect - the same day the body was discovered - pushing a smelling dirt bin down the street and didn’t realise that, in fact, it had Jennifer inside and claimed police did not search the man’s premises for blood-stained clothing, which a witness said had been worn by the suspect.

Western Cape Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen said his office would be placing the spotlight on the case to ensure that justice would finally be served. “Our Court Watch Brief (CWB) was not aware of this matter.

“It has since been established that the case was opened at Grassy Park SAPS. It has been transferred to SAPS HQ and is under investigation.

“The CWB will be following up on this matter with the investigating officer. It is critical that we get to the bottom of cases such as these. There has to be justice for the victim and closure for the loved ones.

“It is encouraging to note that the case is being reviewed by the DPP.

“I extend my sincere condolences to the loved ones of this young girl, Jennifer Williams.

“My hope is that this matter will soon come to a conclusion, to assist the family as they continue to grieve,” Allen said.

Weekend Argus