Open Letter to the Cape Town Prosecutor's Office
"I am horrified by the news of Annestasia Weise's death. As a former victim of her alleged assailant, Richard Englebrecht III, I feel both complicit and troubled that this man was not behind bars, or in a mental health facility."
"It was only last month that I stumbled across the IOL article online on the proceedings of Mr Englebrecht's hearing in November. The headline was "Victim 'never wanted her attacker jailed ", which was a surprise to me, to put it mildly.
I am very angry that this was the primary reason that the prosecutor's office gave for not pursuing the trial on my stabbing. In fact I had aggressively sought out the justice department because the constable in charge of the case had identified a pending rape charge on Mr Englebrecht, and
wanted my testimony in the trial to shore up the case.
(Left: Laura Wiens)
I had to resort to the contacting The Cape Times in order to finally be approached by a prosecutor, a measly week before the trial — my trial —was supposed to come before the courts.
And I was poised to buy a ticket to fly to Cape Town, but it was told to me that because this was apparently Mr Englebrecht's first offense, the State believed it was best to negotiate a plea bargain. Now if the SA's prosecutor's office is not interested in pursuing a criminal trial, it is very difficult for someone in my position to negotiate that. He apparently pled guilty to "assault", rather than to the "attempted murder" which was his original charge, a much more serious crime. And was given the freedom to again roam the streets.
This same article also cited the official testimony given by Mr Englebrecht on his reasons for attacking me — some nonsense about how I could not tell him where his missing brother was. Because he never went on trial for my case, I suppose that his statement went on record as fact. But his words directly contradicted the signed affidavit that I gave to the constable immediately following the stabbing.
Isn't the very point of this kind of hearing to have the assailant atone for his crime by explaining it fully and honestly? This obvious lie was never challenged by the prosecution nor confirmed by me, and I ultimately only learned of it many months later, in the archival news. Absurd. The prosecutor's office, in my opinion, has failed to take its responsibility seriously. I wonder how many prior rape or attempted-murder charges were linked to Mr Englebrecht (I can't imagine that the constable simply invented that story), which the district attorney chose to ignore.
But even if my attack — an unprovoked stabbing, in my head and neck — was truly his first offense, please tell me how many violent assaults one needs to execute before being considered dangerous? Doesn't someone like him still warrant a bit more… supervision?
I am so deeply saddened by Annestasia Weise's death, and still more so at how easily it could have been prevented."
Laura Wiens, USA
Click here to read the full IOL story of Laura Wiens attack.