WATCH | SA fugitive Gerhard Jansen van Vuuren is back on SA soil
Gerhard Jansen van Vuuren is back in SA from Brazil. He fled the country in 2013 ahead of his trial after allegedly stabbing his girlfriend Andrea Venter 14 times outside her home in 2011.
Seven years after walking through the departures terminal of OR Tambo International Airport with a fake name and passport, fugitive Gerhard Jansen van Vuuren stepped through the arrivals terminal of the same airport in handcuffs on Friday afternoon.
Looking casual in a white T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, Jansen van Vuuren appeared relaxed and emotionless as officials of Interpol and the police positioned him outside the police offices at the airport for photos by the small media contingent that had arrived to capture his return.
Jansen van Vuuren co-operated as his cuffs were secured and he leapt into the back of a police van, unable to use his cuffed hands. With him securely locked up, the vehicle sped away.
He will spend the weekend behind bars before appearing in the Johannesburg high court next week, where he will finally face charges for killing his girlfriend Andrea Venter, whom he allegedly bludgeoned to death in Fourways, Johannesburg, in May 2011.
He fled the country in May 2013, days before his trial was set to begin.
Earlier, TimesLIVE had spoken to Venter’s father Dries, who said Jansen van Vuuren’s extradition had dug up old wounds.
“All the old wounds are opened. They are scratched open again and we are heartbroken. My heart is broken for my daughter that he killed,” said Dries Venter, his voice breaking as he held back tears.
Jansen van Vuuren allegedly stabbed the then 25-year-old Venter 14 times outside her residential complex, in full view of security guards and residents. The brutal incident, Dries Venter said, was caught on CCTV footage.
Jansen van Vuuren then tried to commit suicide by slitting his throat, with the same knife he had used to stab Venter.
After failed bail bids in the magistrate’s court, he appealed to the high court and was successful. He then fled the country.
The fugitive was nabbed in Brazil for possession of fake documents in August 2013. He spent two years in jail before he was released, frustrating South African authorities who had been wanting him to face the murder charge.
Interpol in Pretoria worked with Brazilian authorities to track him down and he was found in Rio de Janeiro and arrested in June this year.
After almost 10 years since Venter’s murder, her father was confident that justice would be served this time around.
“I am pleased that the SAPS and Interpol got him and he will finally get what he deserves. Prof [Gerard] Labuschagne [who worked with forensic police on the case] had informed me when he was caught again in Brazil and I was filled with tears of joy,” said the grieving father.
Dries Venter said he was pained at knowing that Andrea’s mother Annatjie did not live to see justice prevail. She died in January 2016.
There’s not even half a chance he will be released again.Dries Venter, father of Andrea
He said before their daughter’s death, they too had been victims of Jansen van Vuuren’s supposed obsession with her. A court interdict had failed to keep him away from her.
“He would threaten all of us if he couldn’t find her. He would say that if he couldn't have her, nobody else would. He would say he will get people to murder me and rape my wife,” Dries said.
While he still had a lot of emotions towards Jansen van Vuuren, fear was not one of them.
“There’s not even half a chance he will be released again. On Monday, he will be appearing in court and most likely in January 2021, we will see him in court again and have him trialled and prosecuted,” said Dries.
As the years have gone by, the Venter family have longed for answers which they hope will give them closure. Dries, however, said he did not think it was possible to forgive the man who took the life of what he and his wife had deemed their miracle daughter. Andrea was reportedly the first child to be born through in vitro fertilisation in the Rustenburg area.
“Maybe if he were to stand up in court and say he is sorry for what he did, I may look at him differently, but not at this stage. For now, I just want justice,” he added.
Labuschagne, who said he had a healthy dose of scepticism, said he hoped justice would prevail.
“I am hoping he will plead guilty and save the family the trauma of going through a trial,” he said.