Notorious convicts released on parole in 2023

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31 December 2023 – 14:00

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A picture of former teacher Norman Afzal Simons when he applied to become a police reservist while boys were going missing in the Cape Flats in the 80s and 90s. He is among convicts who were released on bail this year. File photo.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

This year has seen its fair share of notorious convicts — some of whom had committed despicable crimes — released on parole after serving the minimum required sentences. 

Norman Afzal SimonsNotable among these is Norman Afzal Simons, 56, dubbed the “Station Strangler”. Simons was released from prison in July after spending 28 years behind bars. 

A killer had terrorised Cape Flats communities between 1986 and 1994 when 22 boys were found buried in shallow sandy graves, face down with their hands tied behind their backs. There were signs they had been sodomised.

Simons, a former teacher, was convicted and sentenced by the Western Cape High Court to 25 years for the murder and 10 years for the abduction of one of the boys, Elroy van Rooyen. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

He appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal but it increased his sentence to life behind bars in 1998. 

His release on parole provoked outrage from some residents in Parow, where he is living in the care of a relative under house arrest — partly due to an apparent veil of secrecy around some aspects of his release. 

Many people raised concerns about the safety of their children because they did not know what Simons looked like now or where he was living in Parow.

Frans du Toit and Theuns KrugerAlso in July, two rapists were released on parole this year after serving 28 years behind bars. Frans du Toit and Theuns Kruger kidnapped Alison Botha in 1994 before raping her and attempting to stab her to death.

They slashed her throat so deeply she had to hold her own head on as she crawled to the road for help. With her other hand she had to hold in the organs spilling from her stomach, where she had been stabbed more than 30 times. The men were caught and sentenced to life imprisonment in August 1995. 

Their release stoked anger and frustration among some people. 

Botha was told just a few days before of the imminent release of Du Toit.

In an e-mail sent to Botha on June 23, the department said: “From July 4 Mr du Toit will be on a three-month day parole after which he will be released under normal parole conditions and will form part of the social interaction system in Bloemfontein.” 

Her lawyer Tania Koen said this letter was a terrible shock to her. Botha’s survival story was told in a best-selling book called I Have Life.

Lavona SolomonAlso released on parole this year was Lavona Solomon, the kidnapper of Zephany Nurse. Solomons stole baby Zephany in 1997 from Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town when she was just three days old. Solomon raised her as her own child. 

In January 2015, the Nurses’ second daughter, Cassidy Nurse, started at a new school which Zephany, then aged 17, was also attending under the name Miché Solomon.

Friends of Zephany commented on the uncanny resemblance between the two girls. 

The crime was uncovered in 2016 after a DNA test, which led to Solomon’s arrest and being sentenced to a 10-year jail term that year. 

Correctional services department spokesperson Candice van Reenen said Solomon would be “admitted into the system of community corrections and serve the remainder of the sentence until its expiry in 2026”.

John BlockAlso out on parole is former Northern Cape ANC provincial chairperson John Block who was officially released in November, five years into his 15-year sentence for corruption. 

Block, who is also a former transport, roads and public works MEC, went to jail in 2018 after the Supreme Court of Appeal refused his appeal and that of his co-accused Christo Scholtz, against the jail terms imposed on them for corruption relating to inflated rental contacts for government offices in the Northern Cape. 

There was controversy last year when then tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu alleged she was denied permission to visit Block at Upington prison. However, the department said Block was allowed visitors, like any other prisoner, but no special provisions would be made for him to see visitors outside normal visiting hours or days. 

Despite his release, Block’s troubles with the law appear to be far from over. In May, Block appeared in Kimberley magistrate’s court on charges related to the construction of a hospital in the province. 

The matter was postponed until February 8 2024 so Block could apply for legal aid.

Luyanda MboniswaAnother notable person released on parole this year was Luyanda Mboniswa, the man who murdered Marike de Klerk, the ex-wife of former apartheid president FW de Klerk.

Mboniswa was released in August after spending 22 years in prison.

The 43-year-old was greeted by his mother and other family members outside the correctional centre in Crawford Street in Gqeberha on his release, some holding a banner reading “Welcome Home Luyanda”. 

He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003 for the murder of Marike. He was also handed 15 years for robbery. 

Marike, who was 64, was stabbed in the back and strangled in her flat at Dolphin Beach in Blouberg, Cape Town, in December 2001.

Mboniswa had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Marike. He had stolen a gold watch, a cellphone, two torches and cash from her premises.

He had worked as a security guard at the complex where she was killed. He was 21 at the time of the crime. 

The department of correctional services said Mboniswa “will be admitted into the system of community corrections, whereby he is expected to comply with a specific set of parole conditions for the rest of his natural life”.

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