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Station Strangler’s unsolved victim’s families speak

A newspaper clipping of the victims of the serial killer, Station Strangler., dated January 1994 supplied image

A newspaper clipping of the victims of the serial killer, Station Strangler., dated January 1994 supplied image

Published Jul 22, 2023


Cape Town - Twelve-year-old Jeremy Smith was young and energetic, and he loved his pet dog.

At the age of three, he and his brother became lost their mother and were taken in by his aunt Sarah Booysen.

Jeremy’s dreams came to a tragic end when he became the 14th victim of the Station Strangler. His body was found in a shallow grave in Mitchells Plain on January 26, 1994.

The dense bush were Jeremy’s body was discovered became a dumping ground for the sadistic serial killer.

He was the 14th victim found during the reign of the serial killer which spanned between 1986 and 1994. The bodies of 22 young boys and one man were found in shallow graves. All had been sodomised, strangled and bound.

DNA, including blood, semen and clothes found on Jeremy’s body, were not a match with Norman Afzal Simons, the man dubbed by the media as the Station Strangler.

Simons was released on parole this week after serving 28 years, following his conviction for one murder. The former school teacher was convicted in 1995 of the murder of 10-year-old Elroy van Rooyen.

South Africa - Cape Town - 20 July 2023 - Sarah Booysen is the mom of Jeremy Smith, 12, was found murdered in January 1994 and is one of the stranglers unsolved cases. She raised Jeremy since he was three .. Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Jeremy’s elderly aunt, Sarah, who raised him and his brother, said they still believed that Simons was the Station Strangler and the person who killed their little boy.

Booysen recalled the day Jeremy was killed and said a mistake was being made releasing Simons, and the family said they could not relive the trauma of a fresh investigation.

The Booysen family befriended Simons at church gatherings and knew him as an acquaintance, but not intimately.

“I feel that it is him and no one else that did this,” said Sarah. “I still remember the day his body was found, I stood at the door and his dog was there and it ran to where the body had been found.

“The day he went missing, he did not come home from school and I went to inquire where he was and they said he had left already.

“I feel that he was lured to his death because he was taught to never go with just anyone. Simons used to visit the church we attended when Jeremy was a baby.”

A newspaper extract of January 1994 when the body of Jeremy Smith, 12 was discovered in Mitchell’s Plain. supplied image

Sarah’s daughter, Helen Booysen, said they wanted privacy and did not wish to pursue the case. “I do not think that we will be able to handle it and we do not want anyone coming to our home.”

Norman “Afzal” Simons photographed in the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court during an inquest in 2006. pic: Jack Lestrade

Jeremy, Elino Sprinkle, 11, Donovan Swarts, 11, Neville Samaai, 13, Jeremy Benjamin, 10, Owen Hoofmeester, 12, Fabian Willmore, eight, Marcelino Cupido, 10 and five unidentified victims between the ages of 10 and 14 were some of the victims.

This week, activists in Mitchells Plain called for the 21 unsolved cases to be reopened with the use of new forensic technology.

Elino’s body was discovered on January 20, 1994 in the Weltevreden bush and his family said they were unaware of Simons’ release.

Elino’s cousin, who asked not to be identified, said the entire family were in a state of shock: “I was told about this case while growing up and when the family saw (his parole) on the television we were shocked.”

According to a police forensic document, DNA found on Elino was not a match with Simons’.

“The family has not been visited by the police, no one has informed us about anything and the elders are very upset about this.”

Mitchells Plain Station Commander Brigadier Jan Alexander said if new evidence was brought to light, they would investigate it.

Chairperson of the Mitchells Plain United Residents Association, Michael Jacobs, called for a new investigation.

“Mitchells Plain Police Station cannot take the responsibility alone when it comes to the reopening of the 21 cases, we as a community demand that these cases be reopened because we know that the field of forensics is far advanced, you cannot sit with five bodies that are unidentified of that era.”

Weekend Argus also visited the home of Simons’ family in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, but they refused to open the door.

Weekend Argus