The Springbok Regional Court has sentenced Derrick Ettiene Cloete, to life imprisonment after he was charged with one count of murder and one count of rape. Both charges carried a minimum sentence of life imprisonment unless the magistrate finds that there are substantial and compelling circumstances for the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence. These charges emanate from an incident that occurred 29-30 December 2012, at Steinkopf a small town on the outskirts of Springbok, in the province of the Northern Cape. On the day of the commissioning of the crime, the 36-year-old deceased, Katrina Prins was with the accused consuming alcohol with various people at a place known as the Koffie Shop. The Koffie Shop is an empty building with no doors or windows next to the N7 National Road. It is an empty building where people will sit and drink.

Throughout the day, the two were drinking and at some stage, the deceased went to her sister who was staying with her boyfriend at a nearby business called Stein Civils. The sister of the deceased begged her to sleep at her place as she could see that the deceased was too intoxicated. The deceased refused to sleep there, left the premises, and met up with the accused again and that was the last time her sister saw her alive. On the morning of the 30 December 2012, the sister of the deceased started looking for the deceased as she was worried as she did not sleep at home. The deceased also had an infant child that needed her mother. The sister of the deceased called the accused, but he did not pick up his cell phone and he was not at his place of residence when they went to look for him. The sister enquired from various people including the state witnesses as to the whereabouts of the deceased and was told on more than one occasion that she was last seen in the presence of the accused.

Out of sheer desperation, the sister of the deceased called her boyfriend and asked him to go and look in the Koffie Bar whether her sister was there. After a while, her boyfriend came to their residence and informed the family that the body of the deceased was lying inside the Koffie Bar. The police were informed, and they found the naked body of the deceased wrapped in a blanket with her clothes. During their preliminary investigations at the scene, the investigating officer Warrant Officer Barnard noticed footprints, as well as dragging marks. It also seemed like somebody tried to wipe the scene clear with nearby bushes. Whilst still at the scene, waiting for forensics to remove the body, the investigating officer saw a movement in another part of the building, and he went to investigate and caught the accused as he was jumping out of the building. The accused was arrested on the scene. The shoes of the accused were confiscated, as they resembled the footprints found on the scene. Further investigation revealed through DNA that the accused had sexual intercourse with the deceased.

During the trial, the accused testified in his defence. During his testimony, he did not dispute the fact that he was with the deceased during the day and night of 29 December 2012. He further testified that he did have sexual intercourse with the deceased earlier in the evening and that the intercourse was consensual. The accused also testified that he did not know what had happened to the victim as he had left him with some other man and that was the last time, he saw her. His version of what transpired on the day was that he was at home the whole day on the day in question. He bought himself 2 beers and later that night he had a runny tummy and decided to go and relieve himself at the Koffie Bar whilst smoking some Dagga. He further testified that he did not see the body of the deceased. He told the court that he jumped through the window as he heard voices and was scared that he was going to be assaulted.

The court rejected the version of the accused as false and not reasonably possibly true. The version of the accused was found to be full of discrepancies and improbabilities. On 17 October 2023, the accused was convicted as charged. On 31 January 2024, the day on which the accused celebrated his 42nd Birthday, the court found that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances for the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence and the accused was sentenced to life imprisonment on each count.

The National Prosecuting Authority acknowledges the work and role of the Prosecution team led by Regional Court Prosecutor Basil Kock, in ensuring that the accused was successfully prosecuted the matter and that the accused was sentenced to life imprisonment. We would also like to commend the Investigating Officer Warrant Officer Pieter Barnard for his hard work and resilience during the investigation of this matter. It is through his hard work, persistence, and perseverance that conviction was guaranteed. He walked the extra mile to ensure that justice was served and that the family of the deceased received closure.

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