Fugitive Jurgen Vandekeere hands himself over after years on the run
Police on Thursday confirmed that fugitive Jurgen Vandekeere, who has spent several years on the run, is now behind bars.
“He handed himself over to the Benoni police on Wednesday afternoon,” said Brig Mathapelo Peters. “He is appearing at the Pretoria high court [on Thursday].”
Vandekeere had been arrested for the alleged rape and murder of 20-year-old Chantelle Barnard in Benoni in April 2011. Vandekeere was granted bail of R20,000.
After his release, he had attended court proceedings but suddenly absconded and failed to appear before the high court sitting in Delmas for the anticipated start of the trial in September 2013.
Over the intervening years, Vandekeere's image has been circulated on social media with continuous pleas for the public to help in his recapture.
Private investigator Deon Pieterse, of P3 Investigations, who had tried to trace Vandekeere, said one of the challenges was that Vandekeere had changed his image.
“He also went out of the country under a different identity,” said Pieterse.
He did not immediately know what had led to Vandekeere handing himself over.
Pieterse said they had been unaware that Vandekeere was back in the country before this week's arrest.
In 2015, the Sunday Times quoted a private investigator as saying he believed that Vandekeere, a Belgian national , was back in the country and living in Benoni. It was suspected that he had previously crossed the border into Mozambique.
Chantelle Barnard disappeared on April 1 2011 when she dropped off keys at the home of Vandekeere’s father, who was the landlord of the town house where she had been living with her boyfriend and his mother.
When Chantelle did not return home, her mother Suzette went to the police. Her daughter’s naked body, with multiple stab wounds, was found in one of the other houses on the property.