2008-04-13 Jane van Zyl, shot dead in Bergvliet driveway: killer Gershin Hartzenberg gets life: Sept 23 2010
CAPE HIGH COURT. Sympathetic Cape Times journalist Aesha Kassiem email@example.com described convicted flower-seller Gershin Hartzenberg, 23, right, as “a broken man, tears streaming down his cheeks…’ when hearing his life-imprisonment sentence pronounced for killing Afrikaans Bergvliet resident Jane van Zyl and robbing Newlands resident Linda Heeger. Judge Sirai Desai described him as a ‘brutal killer’ who showed no remorse...”
Hartzenberg had murdered Afrikaans Bergvliet resident Jane van Zyl “in a most brutal fashion”, said judge Desai, adding:
No remorse: ”The impact of your cruelty on Mr van Zyl was terrible: he had to lose his life-partner. None of these people did you any harm,’ said Desai. Accepting testimony by Hartzenberg's older sister that he had been ‘abused and mistreated by his father’, the judge also noted that Hartzenberg showed no remorse, and that his act of absolute brutality had had a tremendous impact on Van Zyl's widower Smiley in particular. “It had been Mr Van Zyl who had had to switch off his wife's life support system in hospital”, Desai said. “To ignore the seriousness of the crime would diminish the humanity of our society,” he said. “Your conduct in this matter (the murder) was so barbaric and brutal that only the maximum sentence that this court can impose is suitable.” Two weeks before murdering Jane van Zyl, Hartzenberg was released on R400 bail although he had 150 serious crime-counts against him.. http://www.iol.co.za:80/news/south-africa/western-cape/killer-of-bergvliet-woman-convicted-1.680323
Widower of murder-victim launches campaign to stop release of dangerous criminals:
Hartzenberg – who had pleaded not guilty and never showed any remorse during his testimony – was released on a mere R400 bail only two weeks before Jane van Zyl's cruel death on April 13 2010: despite the fact that the ‘flower seller” was already facing more than 150 serious crime charges...
Van Zyl has now vowed to take on the State for allowing the release of such a dangerously-violent criminal.
Described by the sympathetic Cape Times journalist as ‘a broken man after being sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Bergvliet resident Jane van Zyl”, city flower seller Gershwin Hartzenberg’ led past the Van Zyl family to the holding cells in the Western Cape High Court.
He was also convicted for the violent armed robbery of white English-speaking Newlands resident Linda Heeger. He had pleaded not guilty to all the charges…
The widower of the murder, Mr Smiley van Zyl, was described as ‘fighting back tears of joy” while he promised to follow through with his vow to his deceased wife that she would never be just “another statistic”.
The widower of the murder, Mr Smiley van Zyl, was described as ‘fighting back tears of joy” while he promised to follow through with his vow to his deceased wife that she would never be just “another statistic”. (video above of the commemorative event on 13 April 2010 which Smiley van Zyl said ‘highranking officials had tried to undermine…’ “Our criticism is often born for frustration agains the system, not against individual police-officers,’ he said.
Karen Breytenbach, justice writer at the Cape Times, reported his testimony on August 3 2010 as follows: “Sitting at his dying wife's bedside after she had been shot in the head in her driveway, Bergvliet resident Smiley van Zyl had to do the hardest thing he had ever done: he had to hold the cellphone to her ear so that their son in America could say goodbye before life support was switched off…”
“Mr Van Zyl recounted the horror of losing Jane, his beloved wife of 32 years. They have two sons, aged 29 and 27, and were business partners in a skincare company. His younger son in Nebraska wanted to be with the family to say goodbye a day after the shooting, but it would have taken him three days to get to Cape Town.
“On the evening of April 13, 2008, Jane had taken her husband Smiley to the Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic for abdominal pain treatment and told him that she was ‘nervous to drive home alone late at night. "I jokingly replied, don't be a girl, keep the windows closed and use the remote control to open the gate. We had a Rottweiler, Caesar, a 70kg animal, and if you opened the gate he would come out and meet the car. I thought there wasn't much that could go wrong. She said goodbye, and turned back and said goodbye a second time. It was unusual for her to do this. Little did I know it was the last time I'd see her alive," Van Zyl said, before breaking down. She was shot in the driveway between 10.30 and 11pm. Only her handbag was stolen.
Van Zyl's nightmare began to unfold while he lay in hospital, when a neighbour called to ask what the noise was outside his house. He became frantic when his wife did not answer the phone. Calling their security company, he was told “not to worry, the lady at his address had been shot, but everything was under control.”
"My world came to a standstill. I pulled the drip out of my arm. You could say it was perfect timing, because just then my neighbour and the squad car arrived at the hospital."
Widower endured ‘barrage of questions from cops enroute to hospital…’
Smiley van Zyl testified that “he had to endure a barrage of questions from the police on the way home”. At his home, the street had been cordoned off and there was a hive of activity. Desperate to get to his wife, he ducked under the police tape and ran to her car. What he saw was a shattered window and blood, but no Jane. He was told his wife had been taken to hospital, but “everyone remained frustratingly vague about her condition”, he testified.
“At the Groote Schuur Hospital trauma unit, he saw his wife again, bandages around her head. She needed a CAT scan. He got hold of the medical file and saw surgery was "not required" and if her condition did not improve drastically in 12 hours life support could be turned off. That was the first time it dawned on me that the woman I kissed goodbye less than an hour earlier, I’d lost forever."
Mrs Heeger also testified about the robbery in front of her house in Swansea Road, Newlands, between 10.30 and 11pm on March 13, 2008. She could describe the event, but could not identify her attacker in court. Heeger said the man and an accomplice blocked her off by parking diagonally in front of her car. He got out, pushed a gun against her window and demanded her handbag. No valuables, including her wedding ring, were ever recovered…
In the tense Court 8 courtroom the Van Zyl and Hartzenberg familes sat squeezed in next to each other. Hartzenberg stood with his hands behind his back in the dock, looking only at his family and friends as Judge Siraj Desai delivered his sentence.
Speaking after the sentencing, Van Zyl said he felt sympathy for the Hartzenberg family. “I understand why they feel the way they do, they did nothing wrong and I don’t hold any grudges against his family. Two and a half years was a long road to walk, but I got everything I hoped for. “Nothing will bring Jane back, but the law took its course,” Van Zyl said.
Killer’s sister gave false testimony:
The killer’s sister Christine Scout first testified that her brother “was in her care while out on bail - and home on the nights tthat two Southern Suburbs women were attacked and robbed in their driveways in March and April of 2008 – causing Mrs van Zyl’s death.” However Scout unwittingly contradicted herself, telling the court that “Hartzenberg had moved in after their brother's death in July - months later.” She later claimed to remember that Hartzenberg was home on the night of April 13, 2008, when Jane van Zyl was shot and killed in her Bergvliet driveway, “because they would have visited their brother's grave that day.” However that event took place two months later. She said she ‘became confused by the dates.’ http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/sister-contradicts-alleged-killer-s-alibi-1.673566
Van Zyl said he would now focus his energy on taking on the State. He has already lodged a formal complaint to ensure that such criminals with a long history of crime are not let out on bail. COMMEMORATIVE FACE BOOK PAGE FOR JANE VAN ZYL
Sympathetic Cape Times journalist: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCES AND LINKS:
view SMILEY VAN ZYL'S VIDEO SPEECH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3PKjE3ripo