Jurgen Vandekeere gets life for rape and murder nine years after crimes
A family whose daughter was murdered nine years ago received the justice they hoped for on Monday when Chantelle Barnard's killer was sentenced to life behind bars.
Jurgen Vandekeere, 42, was convicted last week. He was sentenced on Monday to life imprisonment for murder and life for rape, as well as five years for obstruction of justice.
He was arrested for the crimes in April 2011 but while on R20,000 bail absconded and failed to appear before the high court for the start of the trial in September 2013.
After years on the run, Vandekeere handed himself over at the Benoni police station on January 15 this year.
Suzette Barnard, who found her 20-year-old daughter's body on the Benoni plot where they had rented a home from Vandekeere's father, told TimesLIVE ahead of sentencing that she was hoping for a double life sentence.
Wearing a purple ribbon in memory of her daughter, she was supported by her son Jacques. It was the first time he felt able to attend the court proceedings, she said. The two were only 11 months apart in age and were so close growing up that they behaved like twins, said Barnard.
Barnard expressed the hope that the conclusion of the trial could help them begin living their lives again.
Judge Portia Phahlane said the ruthless manner in which Barnard was killed, confirmed by pictures of the deceased and the postmortem, combined with the fact that Vandekeere had no explanation for what had happened, meant that there was no room for a lenient sentence.
The only appropriate punishment in this case was a long sentence, she said, adding that the only thing he had going for him was that he was a first-time offender. She said she found the accused to lack remorse.
Phahlane said women in the country were especially disillusioned with what they believe is the state’s inability to protect them from gender-based violence.
She said it was the court’s duty to ensure that their safety, rights and dignity were upheld, and it would be failing if it did not send out a clear message that gender-based violence was a serious scourge in the country and would be punished as such.