EXCLUSIVE PICS FROM THE SCENE: A rundown on the Van Rooyen farm attack trial so far, back in court today

Judge Barnard contemplates the scene before him.

WITH 19 counts against them, the six accused in the Van Rooyen farm attack case have entered ‘not guilty’ pleas at the Vryheid Magistrates’ Court as day 3 of the trial got underway last week.

The charges against them include first-degree murder, murder, robbery with aggravated assault, attempted murder, kidnapping and numerous weapons charges, including the unlawful possession of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

The six alleged attackers shook their heads in collective denial as each charge was explained to them before the court and they were afforded the opportunity to enter their pleas.

Judge Barnard explained to the accused that the minimum sentences, if convicted of the charges against them, would range from five years minimum on the kidnapping and attempted murder charges, to life sentences for the charges of murder and first-degree murder. The accused confirmed that they understood this.

ALSO READ: BREAKING NEWS: Farm attacker sentenced for Van Rooyen massacre

AND: ‘Remember Billy as he was’

Council for the defendants each confirmed that the accused, on the instruction of their attorneys, would exercise their right to remain silent.

Senior State Prosecutor, Adv Andrè Ludick addressed the court, establishing that the state was to rely on two witnesses in the case against the six accused, who allegedly took part in the massacre that claimed the lives of William van Rooyen and his father-in-law, Ronnie Lombard, on the fateful night of the attack on the Van Rooyen home two years ago. The one witness is an accomplice, while the second is a convicted accomplice in the same crime.

Adv Ludick pointed out several other key factors that placed the accused at the scene of the crime at the time of the brutal double murder.

In the video below, the legal team hears how the killers gained access to the property:

The accused were identified in numerous identification parades and ballistic evidence linked some of them to the scene. Fingerprint evidence linked at least one of the suspects, while DNA evidence found on one of the accused placed him at the scene of the crime in question. Items recovered in the possession of one of the accused linked him to the crime as well and previous statements, made by certain of the accused to magistrates, implicated them in the attack.

Forensic Investigator, Warrant Officer ES Mazibuko points out the area where one of the sets of fingerprints were originally lifted.

The prosecution for the state then called to the witness stand witness number 64 in the case, Warrant Officer ES Mazibuko, a specialist in crime scene investigation from Forensic Services in Newcastle, who had compiled a 161-page album of photos and sketches of the crime scene from April 20 to April 21, 2016, as well as the post-mortems of the deceased.

This album was introduced to the court as Exhibit A and council for the defense confirmed that they were all in possession of a copy thereof.

Senior State Prosecutor, Adv Andrè Ludick with Investigating Officer, Captain Attie Engelbrecht.

Adv Ludick thereafter proposed that court proceedings continue at 9:30am on April 19, giving council the opportunity to visit the crime scene for the remainder of the day on April 18.

The object of the crime scene visit was to put into perspective the cold-blooded massacre that took place almost exactly two years prior, when the Van Rooyen family were brutally attacked by a malicious gang of gunmen as they carried out their evening activities, unsuspecting of what horror was about to transpire in the apparent comfort and supposed safety of their own homes.

Investigating Officer, Captain Attie Engelbrecht and Forensic Investigator, Warrant Officer ES Mazibuko, lead the inspection through the Van Rooyen Farm.

Vryheid Herald Editor, Estella Naicker, accompanied the judge, the senior prosecutor, the defense attorneys, investigating officers, police and court officials on their visit to the crime scene, which still bears some of the scars of the merciless bloodbath which claimed the lives of Billy van Rooyen and Ronnie Lombard and heinously impacted the lives of an entire community in its wake.

“The home of the Van Rooyen family seemed to resonate a sadness,” says Estella. “One could feel that a tragedy had taken place there.”

Adv Ashley Jennings, Defense Attorney for Accused Number Six, inspects the hole in the fence where the attackers allegedly gained entry.

“The visit to the scene of the crime was necessary for all of the roleplayers in this case to gain a deeper understanding of what took place that fateful night, information that would be impossible to effectively convey within the confines of a courtroom… Being there also provided a clearer understanding of what the Forensic Investigator, Warrant Officer Mazibuko, had portrayed in the album. Utilising visual clues, Warrant Officer Mazibuko was able to recreate the crime in the minds of those who were present at the site.”

Cable ties were used to restrain the victims of this heinous attack. They still litter the premises like haunting reminders of the horror that befell this family two years ago.

During the visit to the Van Rooyen home, the Forensic Investigator described the horror that played out in the home of Lodewyk van Rooyen, where Lodewyk’s wife cowered in fear, in hope that the attackers would not know she was there, as they stormed through their home, and opened fire. The barrage of bullet holes is still evident in the wall where they opened fire, near the spot where Mrs van Rooyen was hiding.

A barrage of bullets hit the wall, as the suspects fired at the safe.

“One of the things that stood out for me,” adds Estella, “was when the Forensic Investigator and the Investigating Officer described this scene, it really brought home the absolute terror that they must have felt. These are not just statistics of crime in South Africa. These are real people who endured something that no South African citizen should ever have to endure…”

Judge Barnard at the site of the creche and the clinic, which hold a significance that will be relevant at a later stage in the trial.

“The number of areas hit by the hail of bullets that was fired upon the Van Rooyen and Lombard homes also stood out,” she adds. “It felt awkward to relive the horror that befell the family that evening, almost like I was invading their privacy or intruding on their tragedy. Everything still seems so ‘in place’ but the home resonates such a deep sense of sadness and loss. After what has happened here, they can never go back as a happy, complete family…”

In the video below the legal team see the gate through which the attackers escaped after their murderous massacre on the upstanding Van Rooyen family, pillars of the Swart-Mfolozi community:

  AUTHOR
Elaine Rodway

Latest News

COMMENTS

Top
Recommended Story x
Be there or miss out on the chance to walk away with R2K in cash

Thanks for your referral. We have no doubt your friends will love our newsletter as much as you!

Don't forget to verify your email.

to our FREE newsletter
SUBSCRIBE to our FREE newsletter.




SELECT your titles:

Estcourt News
Ladysmith Gazette
Newcastle Advertiser
Northern Natal Courier
Vryheid Herald


Get regular news updates sent directly to your inbox.

Your source of local breaking news and trending stories from across the country.

Be a part of our growing community

1MILFacebook Fans
98KTwitter Followers
5MILMonthly Readers
12MILArticles Published Every Month
72Local Community Websites

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE newsletter

SELECT your titles:

Estcourt News
Ladysmith Gazette
Newcastle Advertiser
Northern Natal Courier
Vryheid Herald

Get regular news updates sent directly to you inbox.

Your source of local breaking news and trending stories from across the country.

Be a part of our growing community

Subscribe Here
1MILFacebook Fans
98KTwitter Followers
5MILMonthly Readers
12MILArticles Published Every Month
72Local Community Websites
Your details:


Your friends: