Monday, March 04, 2024

Nephew of slain Cape magistrate sentenced to 20 years direct imprisonment

The nephew of a Cape Town Magistrate, has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

The Western Cape High Court sentenced Cassidy Hartenzberg on Friday,  for the murder of Romay van Rooyen, after the State asked the court to impose a sentence that is more than the prescribed minimum sentence due to the seriousness of the offences he committed.

‘’The State argued that the facts set out by Cassidy Hartzenberg - that he was 20 years old, single, unemployed, and has spent 17 months in custody awaiting trial - do not constitute substantial and compelling circumstances that would justify deviation from the discretionary minimum sentence,’’ said Eric Ntabazalila, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson.

Van Rooyen’s body was found by her sister in her Marina Da Gama home on the morning of 10 September 2022, after she failed to respond to phone calls. The deceased who had a close relationship with her family caused panic when she didn’t answer her phone and family members immediately knew something was wrong. Investigations revealed that she was killed in the early hours of the evening of 09 September 2022. At the funeral, Hartzenberg, 18 years old at the time, mourned her death like the rest of the family, her friends, and colleagues while he knew that he had strangled her to death in her home after she refused to give him money. The court heard he was a drug user at the time.

In his plea and sentencing agreement, he confessed that the deceased was his aunt, they had a good relationship, and that she emotionally and financially supported him and his family.He claims that he visited her on the day of her murder to ask for financial assistance for a job application.

‘’They were sitting in the lounge when he asked her, but she refused, got up and went into her bedroom. He followed her and she was facing away from him when he entered her bedroom. He put his hands around her neck and strangled her. She resisted and fought for her life. He claims he could not stop what he was doing and could not control his anger. She fell to the ground, and he realised what he had done as she was no longer breathing. He ran to the lounge to find her cell phone so that he could call for assistance, but her phone was pin-locked. He didn’t have a phone and out of anger threw her phone on the kitchen floor breaking it. He claims that he panicked and did not know what to do. He stayed with her body until the early hours of the next day and then drove her vehicle to Westgate Mall, Mitchells Plain, and later abandoned it on Jakes Gerwel Road, Mitchells Plain,’’ explained Ntabazalila.

‘’He further confesses that he was aware what he was doing was illegal, and punishable and that he unlawfully and intentionally engaged in the conduct that led to her death. He knew that while strangling her, he could kill her but reconciled himself and continued to apply pressure until she stopped resisting. He knew that he had no lawful reason for acting the way he did and had no defence to the charges levelled against him,’’ he added.

Western Cape Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Phumzo Zantsi, asked the court to use its discretion and sentence Hartzenberg to more than the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years direct imprisonment given the seriousness of the charges faced by the accused.

Zantsi, said the deceased was a contributing member of society as she was a magistrate.

‘’There is a public outcry against the high levels of serious and violent crimes against women in South Africa. Gender-based violence is a scourge facing our society. Through the sentence imposed supra, the accused has been made aware of how serious the courts view offences against vulnerable members of society. Evident through his past conduct is his innate disrespect for women and inability to use physical force.’’

The court sentenced Hartzenberg to 20 years direct imprisonment for the murder and 6 years imprisonment for the theft of her vehicle. It ordered the sentences to run concurrently leaving him with an effective 20-year direct imprisonment sentence.


Done By: Mitchum George

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