Police captain celebrates conclusion of murder case after nine years
Benoni police station captain Peter Mbonani says he has waited years to see Jurgen Vandekeere's guilty verdict.
The high court sitting at the Benoni magistrate’s court found Vandekeere, 42, guilty on Thursday. Sentencing proceedings are scheduled for Monday.
Vandekeere was arrested for Chantelle Barnard's death in April 2011, but while out on bail he absconded, failing to appear before the high court sitting in Delmas for the start of the trial in September 2013.
Mbonani was the investigating officer in the case when Barnard, 20, was found murdered in Vandekeere's home.
The scene, he recalled, was particularly gruesome as Barnard had been raped and her throat was stabbed.
“There was pornography found near the TV. The scene was strange and there were lots of unusual things about the house.
“It feels good to see him found guilty. We celebrated [on Thursday]. Even when he handed himself in [on January 15], I knew I wouldn't be able to celebrate until he was convicted and put behind bars.”
Before January, Vandekeere was not heard from for years but his name and image was continuously shared on social media and by Interpol.
In 2015 private investigator Deon Pieterse said he believed Vandekeere, a Belgian national, was back in the country and living in Benoni. It was suspected he had previously crossed the border into Mozambique.
It is unclear why Vandekeere handed himself over at the beginning of the year. He pleaded not guilty to the crimes when his trial resumed.
After several months in custody he looked gaunt, the opposite of the imposing figure circulated in the wanted images.
Barnard went missing when she went to drop off her house keys with Vandekeere's father, Roland, her landlord, after her family had moved out of the house they had been renting.
Her mother Suzette found her daughter's body in Vandekeere’s house that evening.
She was naked and her hair was wet as Vandekeere seemed to have washed her body.