The justice system has come under fire after a case against a 15-year-old boy charged with murder was provisionally withdrawn, allowing him to return to Hangberg, where he allegedly committed two further vicious attacks on residents.
The boy, whose identity is known to the Sentinel, was accused of shooting and killing 18-year-old Ryno Solomons outside his Salamander Road home on May 20 last year (“The law has to change,” Sentinel, June 2, 2017), and was subsequently arrested and held in a place of safety. At the time, he was 14 years old.
However, according to community leader Pastor Philip Frans, he learnt the boy had been released in September last year after the autopsy report went “missing”.
However, Hout Bay police spokeswoman, Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch, told the Sentinel on Wednesday that the case had now been reopened.
For the boy’s two alleged victims, however, his time out of custody, according to Pastor Frans, proved to have severe consequences.
“Only a month after his release, this boy then attacked another youth, stabbing him nine times near the area known as The Zone. The police were alerted, but the boy wasn’t arrested,” Pastor Frans said.
In the early hours of Boxing Day, the boy allegedly struck again, this time targeting 22-year-old Chadwin van der Ross, who was on his way to his grandmother’s house near Salamander Road. Here he was shot in the temple, leaving him blind in both eyes.
“I was coming down the stairs when suddenly I was attacked by two guys from behind. One of the guys then pushed me to the ground, stabbing me below the elbow. Then the other guy, the one who shot Ryno and stabbed the other boy nine times, pulled out a gun and shot me in the face,” Mr Van der Ross said.
“The bullet entered on the right side (of the temple) and came out through my left eye. I immediately blacked out, and the next thing I knew I woke up in Groote Schuur Hospital. The cops came to take my statement three days later.”
Mr Van der Ross is awaiting results on whether he potentially can regain his sight.
“This boy is known for selling drugs in Hangberg. Before the attack, he had told a friend of mine that I shouldn’t walk in that area because it was his turf. “
But with all he has done, how can someone like that be allowed on the streets? We are told he is a minor, but what difference should that make when he keeps attacking people like this? The justice system is failing us.”
At the time of Mr Solomons’s murder, there was already speculation that the boy had been arrested for the attempted murder of another man, but was released into the custody of his aunt.
Police were unable to confirm this.
Mr Solomons’s mother, Rita, has been distraught since she learnt the case against the boy accused of her son’s murder had been provisionally withdrawn. This, she said, was compounded by the fact that she had heard the boy had threatened to kill her other son, 21-year-old Tylo.
“My cousin overheard him on the street that he was going to slit Tylo open. Since his release, he has been walking around the streets like he’s the man. I actually approached him and asked him why did he kill Ryno, but he denied he did. But I knew he was lying,” Ms Solomons said.
“I was very devastated when the case was withdrawn. I’ve been very unhappy with the detective who has been assigned to this case. I hadn’t heard much from him at all, then one day he came to my workplace and asked me to go with him to the police station. The colonel at the police station asked me whether I knew why I was there, which I didn’t.
“That was when they told me the car of the doctor who did the autopsy had been broken into, and the results of the autopsy had been taken along with 12 other dockets from different cases. So the case was provisionally withdrawn.”
She failed to understand how this could happen, and the boy could be allowed back onto the streets so easily.
“When he started stabbing and shooting again after his release, I was furious. That told me the justice system had failed us.”
Tylo, who like his mother is still battling to come to terms with his brother’s death, now has to exercise extreme caution every time he leaves the house, fearing a similar fate could await him.
Pastor Frans said he was shocked the boy could have been released again, only to allegedly commit more crimes of a violent nature.
“This is a failing of the justice department, and I am encouraging Chadwin’s family to open a case against the department,” he said.
Warrant Officer Lesch confirmed the boy was arrested following the attack on Mr Van der Ross. However, she said police had no record of the attack on the other youth near The Zone.
According to the Child Justice Act, children from 11 years of age and up to 14 years of age have criminal capacity and the onus to prove criminal capacity on the part of the child accused of having committed a crime rests with the State.
Children above 14 years of age have criminal capacity unless proven otherwise by the accused child.