I remember about two years ago reading a story of a missing 16 year old. She went missing after going jogging in Tokai forest, and later finding out that she was robbed, beaten, raped and subsequently murdered. As a woman, this is one of my biggest fears. In Cape Town, where I live, it has become an unfortunate norm thus the name given to South Africa as the ‘Rape capital of the world’. The society that we currently live in has made it impossible for me to even consider going jogging alone, let alone walking to the shop around the corner by myself. It has us looking around every corner with the thought that we might get robbed and worse raped. Even in the day time.
This case that I refer to is the murder of Franziska Blöchliger. Franziska hadn’t even been completely alone. She was out jogging in Tokai forest while her mother walked their dog nearby. Howard Oliver then attacked her. He had choked her till she lost consciousness, dragged her through the forest, and then raped her. He had first denied that he killed her but later confessed to doing it. He suffocated her to death – Afterwards, stealing her cellphone, earphones and diamond ring.
He was convicted. Howard Oliver received two life terms for rape and murder and 15 years for the robbery. The judge who handed down the sentence, Judge Kate Savage wrote in her written judgment that the attack on Franziska Blöchliger was “vicious, callous and cruel”. She also stated that “Women and children must be able to make use of public spaces safely in all communities across our country, without the risk and fear of attack, bodily violation or even loss of life.” It is definitely unjust that we as women and the children of South Africa have to feel unsafe in our communities. It is unjust that we cannot go out alone in public spaces without the fear of being attacked. But the ruling that Judge Kate handed and the sentence that Oliver Howard received was certainly just and well deserved. The fact that Howard Oliver was no longer going to be and is no longer to be on the streets contributed to a more harmonious and peaceful society.
Franziska Blöchliger’s parents sought justice for their daughter’s death. I think they got it. They now know with certainty who their child’s killer is, and they know that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. He will never attack another person again. I certainly feel safer knowing that the law is working to protect us such an attack and that it is on our side. I feel that perhaps people like Howard Oliver are now more afraid of committing such a crime based on the consequences he received. It’s one step in the right direction. It is indeed still not safe for us but just knowing that the criminal got what he deserved has me feeling a little bit safer.
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