LUTENDO LIVHEBE – MUDAU – The High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division has sentenced Ryan Kyle Smith, to effective life imprisonment and declared him unfit to work with children, unfit to possess a firearm and ordered that his name be recorded in the National Child Protection Register. This sentence and orders follow the conviction of Smith for the murders of his former girlfriend, Altecia Kortje and their daughter, Raynecia Kortje. It is a case of femicide committed by a jealous, possessive, and abusive boyfriend who could not take it when his partner ended their romantic relationship.
During the trial, Adv Nadia Ajam told the court that Smith and Kortje were in a romantic relationship for some time and were blessed with two children, Raynecia Kortje, and her brother, Tyrese Tyron Kortje. They lived together but she moved out when the accused started abusing drugs. At the time the accused was employed as a caretaker in a student residency in Belhar and stayed there. He managed to turn his life around and stopped using drugs and the couple moved together again.
At the begging of 2020, the accused started using drugs repeatedly and became physically and emotionally abusive towards his girlfriend. The deceased moved out again and went to stay with her parents in Delft. She told him that their romantic relationship was over, but the accused did not take kindly to this, and his drug use became worse. On 5 June 2020, he fetched their two children from the deceased parent’s home without her consent and took them to Belhar.
The deceased expressed her unhappiness about the removal of the children without her consent and arranged to fetch them. On 8 June 2020, the deceased arrived at the residence to fetch the children, but the accused attempted to convince her to take him back, but she did not want to do that. However, the accused under the influence of drugs again, realised that he would never see his former girlfriend and the children again, then decided to kill both.  The accused lied about knowing the whereabouts of both deceased. He confessed to his aunt on 12 June 2020, after she interrogated him about the whereabouts of the deceased. The aunt told his uncle who contacted the police leading to the accused’s arrest.
Arguing for the strong sentence, Adv. Ajam told the court: “Femicide and child deaths are a scourge which must be eradicated. The ongoing national and international campaign against violence and women and children is indicative of the serious nature of the offences and pressing need to deter society from continuing such violence.” The court sentenced the accused to life imprisonment for Altecia’s murder, and 18 years imprisonment for Raynecia’s murder but ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
Expressing her shock at the callous crimes committed by Smith, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Western Cape, Adv Nicolette Bell said: “The use of children as pawns in personal fights between partners is unacceptable. Men also need to accept it when women decided that they have had enough of the abuse and want to end the relationship and claim back their lives and dignity. As the NPA we condemn any form of violence against women and children and we will vigorously prosecute the scourge of GBV as it encroaches on the right to dignity,” she promised.

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