CRIME & PUNISHMENT
‘Station Strangler’ Norman Simons’ release on life parole provokes outrage among some Mitchells Plain residents
Norman Afzal Simons, dubbed the Station Strangler, was released on parole after spending 28 years in prison for the murder of 10-year-old Elroy van Rooyen. Simons will remain a parolee for the rest of his life, according to the Department of Correctional Services.
On Thursday, 20 July, Norman Afzal Simons was released from prison on parole and will serve his term in Cape Town rather than Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, where he lived before being sentenced in 1995.
Following his arrest on 13 April 1994, Simons was jailed for life for the kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Elroy van Rooyen.
Between 1986 and 1994, at least 22 boys were found dead on the Cape Flats after having been raped and strangled. Their bodies were found in shallow graves scattered around the area. Simons, widely blamed for the killings, was described in the media as the “Station Strangler”.
However, the evidence at the time could only connect him to Elroy van Rooyen’s murder. This left 21 bereaved families still searching for information about who killed their children.
Simons’ release provoked widespread outrage among some Mitchells Plain residents. Because of the unsolved murders, the community raised concerns that his release might reopen old wounds.
On Sunday, 16 July, the Department of Correctional Services engaged residents on Simons’ possible release after 28 years behind bars. Following that engagement, the department opted not to place a paroled Simons in Mitchells Plain.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Brother of Elroy van Rooyen, Norman Simons’ murder victim, distraught over killer’s imminent release
Candice van Reenen, a spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services in the Western Cape, outlined Simons’ parole conditions:
- Eight contacts per month, which includes four visits by a monitoring official, office visits by the parolee and telephonic contact.
- Placed under house arrest.
- May not leave the magisterial district without permission.
- He is not permitted to use drugs and alcohol.
- He may not write and publish without permission.
- He will remain a parolee for life and any change to his daily movements or activities are subject to the permission of the head of community corrections.
On Monday, Norman Jantjies, chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Community Police Forum, spoke to Daily Maverick. Jantjies was the director of the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Reintegration of Offenders’ Mitchells Plain office when the 22 children were killed.
Jantjies engaged regularly with Simons, a former school teacher who taught isiXhosa at Nicro for more than a year. Jantjies said he was well liked.
Recalling the mood and tension when the murders took place, he said: “Mitchells Plain was in turmoil. Every male who walked alone with a child was considered a potential suspect.”
Emphasising that Simons was convicted 28 years ago and had served his sentence, Jantjies said he supported Simons’ release on parole.
“However, I agree with family members outraged by his parole. Twenty-one families blamed Simons for their children’s deaths. These families need closure, and it is critical that the police revive these cold cases and employ cutting-edge technology to solve these 21 killings,” he said.
Western Cape police confirmed that its cold case unit will take over the investigation into the deaths of the other 21 children. DM