Judge wants to find out why Fortune was paroled
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THE judge presiding over the case of convicted rapist and murderer Steven Fortune has called for a full correctional services panel, including the family of his first victim and a psychiatrist’s report, on why he was granted parole more than three years ago.
Judge Robert Henney is on a mission to find out why Fortune was granted parole, allowing the opportunity to rape and attack another child in Cape Town.
Judge Henney is leaving no room for error when he decides on the sentencing of Fortune who pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, murder and kidnapping of Michaela Williams, 12, of New Horizon, Pelican Park.
Fortune was Williams’s neighbour and was previously sentenced to 20 years behind bars for the rape and attempted murder of an eight-year-old girl who he had lured from her home in Hyde Park, Mitchells Plain, to Khayelitsha Cemetery in 2005.
The little girl pretended to be dead after being stabbed and managed to crawl to safety hours later.
Now 24, the woman said last year after William’s murder that Fortune should never have been released.
Fortune made an appearance at the Western Cape High Court on Friday.
The State was awaiting an observation report from a psychiatrist after Fortune was sent to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital.
State prosecutor Nadia Ajam handed a copy of the report to the registrar on Friday.
But Judge Henney said he wanted additional input from the same psychiatrist relating to Fortune’s previous conviction.
“Why was he released, I want to know,” said Henney who looked at Fortune.
Judge Henney said he wanted a full panel for the mitigation and aggravation of sentencing.
This would include the first investigating officer who was stationed at Mitchells Plain police station.
He also wanted members from the parole board and correctional services who were part of the decision to release Fortune and the minutes taken at the time of the hearing.
Judge Henney said the testimony from the first victim and her mother would give the court a better insight on Fortune’s profile.
He added he felt strongly Correctional Services should not have dealt with the parole and that it should have been discussed with the courts.
“I want the previous investigating officer, I want a full picture of the accused, about the profile of the accused.
“Correctional Services should not have dealt with his release. The court should have dealt with his release in my view.
“The chairperson of the parole board (referring to his input), the minutes taken by the parole board. They decided to release him. The previous child, I want her and I want the mother of the present and past victim.”
Ajam informed Judge Henney the previous victim was now an adult and would see whether she would be keen to testify.
Judge Henney said: “I want a full hearing, I want evidence.”
The matter was postponed until April 30 and Fortune was sent back to Pollsmoor Prison.
Outside court Williams’ mother Beatrice Adams was supported by family and friends and a newly formed political party, the African Restoration Alliance (ARA).
Adams said they were growing frustrated at the continuous postponements and wanted closure: “I feel he wants to use Valkenberg as a scapegoat.”
One of people supporting Beatrice was Miche Solomon, formerly known as Zephany Nurse, who was snatched from Groote Schuur Hospital in 1997.
Solomon, 23, is a member of ARA and wore a pink-t-shirt with the party’s name on it.
Solomon came out publicly in 2019 after her identity was sealed from the media and public.
She did this after she published her story, Zephany, Two mothers, One daughter.
Solomon was raised by Lavona and Michael Solomon who she had believed were her real parents.
Solomon, who is the mother of two children, said she was thrust back to past emotions when she stepped into the Western Cape High Court on Friday. “I personally felt afraid seeing the High Court once again.
“I was afraid of being reminded and reliving the trauma that I have experienced in 2015.
“I felt the confusion and loneliness once again. I am glad that I took that step of braveness to revisit the High Court in support of Michaela Williams’s mother and family as also part of my healing process and journey.”
She said she felt that Fortune should never have been granted parole and was devastated by what had happened. “I personally felt as a mother that it could have been my own child. I can only imagine as a mother the heartache she must still be facing, the questions she still wants to ask.
“She will now never be able to witness or help fulfil the plans and dreams she had for her daughter. It really breaks my heart as a mother.
“I feel that the parole board did not make a wise decision by releasing him back into society.
“Lastly, I feel that when it comes to parole that the community needs to be made more aware, because the parolee affects everyone in the community, as we can see with so many cases, parole without rehabilitation is pointless.”
Fortune detailed in a plea agreement how he had lured Williams from outside her home.
He had already decided he would rape and kill her after promising to buy her a cake for her birthday.
Williams had attempted to flee from Fortune as they walked towards Schaapkraal where her body would later be found on a vacant piece of land.
Fortune choked her with his hands and said the child had fought back and that Williams had hit him in the face causing his nose to bleed.
He added he choked her until she fainted and tied her hands using her own vest before raping her repeatedly.
Williams regained consciousness and began to scream.
He took her shirt and strangled her with it before throwing two concrete bricks in her head and covered her with a blanket and tree branches.