Monday, June 5, 2017

Heinrich van Rooyen - A Travesty of Justice

I met Heinrich van Rooyen’s children and parents last week.  They had come from Knysna to visit Heini, bringing his two sons with them.  They then came to meet me at my home.  What a privilege … what an honour.   Now that I have met the people who parented Heini, I am no longer surprised by the kind of person Heini is; soft, gentle, compassionate, honest, strong …
Heini’s father was the Head of Correctional Services for Knysna, now retired.  His brother, Franklin, is a warden there.  Heini’s youngest brother is in his final year at Police College.  His eldest son is going to the South African table tennis championships.   His mother is the kind of woman who will work her arse off to see that her family are cared for.   He has an amazing family – so traumatised by Heini’s wrongful imprisonment and yet, so humble, kind, compassionate and gentle.   When you look a little deeper you can see the damage that has been done.  They have been broken.
Although our afternoon was filled with laughter, it was not without private tears shed in my bedroom with his mother.   Through the cops who framed Heini, the van Rooyen family lost everything; including their home and all that money went into the pockets of Advocate Terry Price and his minions.   They are tired, they are broken and they are living a nightmare that they never wake up from.
The fact that Price did not ask or even mention important facts that would have played a major role in the outcome of the case, or question the validity of the so-called ‘eye-witness’ is criminal.    The legal costs for this case to defend Heini came to one million, eight hundred thousand rand. 
How could Terry Price do such a shoddy job of defending him?     Not only did he lose the case when it was so easy for him to have changed the course of justice in the favour of real justice, but he pocketed hundreds of thousands of rands for his pathetic defense of Heini.   That is thievery, in my opinion.   Who to blame?  The lawyers who did not give him the information he needed to defend, or is he just a useless advocate.  The justice system is flawed and corrupt.   I would not employ him to defend me against a peg on my washing line.
Herald Live reports Terry Price thus: “His presence is somewhat larger than life. His booming voice can be heard in the corridors of the courthouse before he is seen…He is hot-headed, cocky and a bit bullish, but his colleagues and clients will tell you that he has a heart of gold and will go to the ends of the earth to prove someone’s innocence”. (Really – I know of two he did not go to the end of the docket, let alone the ends of the earth)… Price was a junior advocate on the team representing Stellenbosch murder accused Fred van der Vyver, who was tried for the 2005 murder of his girlfriend, Inge Lotz.
While the evidence against him seemed overwhelming, his lawyers managed to turn the tables on the police, accusing them of fabricating evidence”.  (So why did he not do the same for Heini?  Is it because he was only the junior and he did not contribute much?)
“In 2007, Judge Deon van Zyl acquitted Van der Vyver of Lotz’s murder”.
Interestingly, the cops who investigated the murder of Inge Lotz and pinned her murder on Fred van der Vyver, were the same cops who investigated the murder of the two girls in Knysna in 2005.    In both cases, they used the same kind of shenanigans.  
Why did Price not turn the tables on the police when it was blatantly clear to everyone that the cops had framed Heinrich van Rooyen?  Terry Price was Advocate in both cases.  Was the defense different for both cases because the van der Vyver’s had more money than the van Rooyens?
Heinrich was sentenced to 2 life terms and 28 years.  He has now served 12 years.   He was arrested on 10 December 2005 and sentenced on 14 May 2008.  
Because he was sentenced after October 2004, he can only ask for parole after 25 years. But, in sentencing Heinrich van Rooyen’s to thirty (30) years imprisonment with no parole, the judge also refused leave to appeal.    The Constitutional Court did not overrule the Supreme Court’s decision.
In Heini’s case, the police committed perjury, broke the chain of evidence, took eye-witnesses who could not possibly have seen anything, let alone Heinrich and planted or failed to find clothing at the crime scene that was only found days later by the cops who were involved in the Fred van der Vyver case.  If cops can plant evidence with impunity, fail to follow accepted investigative techniques and frame an innocent man, under the conditions of his sentence, he becomes a political hot potato.  The police are not going to investigate thoroughly their own, are they?  Are they not going to cover up for their colleagues, particularly since Director Trollip was leading them?  It is not without sadness that Director Trollip has died, but at the same time, without him – who can we blame?   The police who followed his direction MUST be taken to task so that we can right a very bad wrong.  An innocent man is spending his life in prison because of crooked cops.
Who murdered Jessica Wheeler and Victoria Stadler?   They are still walking the streets of Knysna.