Opinion | The shameful murder of Marolien


Opinion | The shameful murder of Marolien

After the killing of a beloved Eastern Cape physiotherapist, DANIEL NGWEPE criticises a parole system which ‘releases thugs, irredeemable murderers without remorse'.

  • 25 August 2023
  • Free Speech
  • 3 min to read
  • article 11 of 23
  • Daniel Ngwepe
Marolien Schmidt
Marolien Schmidt

I LIE on my bed on a Monday evening, alone in the darkness, eyes wide open. My heart is broken. Someone whose friendship is worth its weight in gold to me, and who means the world to me, tearfully told me this morning about the murder of her friend. I am sad and struggling to fall asleep.

On this Monday evening, my mind is focused on the name of someone I've never met: Marolien Schmidt. I don't know her but I am friends with someone who was her close friend. Marolien, a popular physiotherapist whose parents were healthcare workers, was brutally attacked and fatally stabbed in her home in Richmond Hill in the Eastern Cape on Women's Day. The suspect, reportedly, is a convicted criminal with murder and robbery on his record.

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Coincidentally, this morning I read a story in the newspaper about Marike de Klerk's murderer, who will be released on parole at the end of August. I briefly met Marike years ago in Washington, DC and didn't know her well enough to determine if she was a good person. However, that is irrelevant because no one deserves to be murdered, and no one has the right to take someone else's life.

The head of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Samuel Thobakgale, recently explained on national television why Jacob Zuma isn't returning to prison: the department's “computer system" rejected Zuma and couldn't allocate a cell to him.

Photos of Marolien Schmidt at her memorial service in Gqeberha.
Photos of Marolien Schmidt at her memorial service in Gqeberha.

People shouldn't  criticise the state's reckless parole system only when well-known criminals or the murderers of well-known victims such as Chris Hani are mentioned; they should also include other offenders, like the killers of hardworking, loyal and law-abiding South Africans like Marolien.

Marolien's tragic passing is a stark indictment of everything that is wrong with our country's incompetent government and the long road that lies ahead: crime and corruption are out of control, citizens are left to fend for themselves, and most South Africans agree that the justice system works in favour of murderers and criminals, with no follow-through. No wonder young South Africans are emigrating to other countries for economic opportunities and safety.

Marolien's alleged murderer — I don't even want to mention his name — surely has his own problems, perhaps poverty, unemployment, drugs or whatever else, but why is he Marolien's problem, or mine, or yours?

The DCS relies on a system that releases thugs into our society, irredeemable murderers without remorse. It falsely claims that people on parole are subject to strict conditions after their release. Who should have ensured that this murderer didn't break into Marolien's house at 2am, just to steal a cellphone?

We are all waiting to see how long it will take before Marike's murderer kills, robs or rapes an innocent person.

I hope Marolien's family takes legal action against the useless DCS, which is directly responsible for her gruesome, unnecessary and unjust death.

Rest in peace, Marolien, and may the Lord cherish and comfort your family. It's a pity we were denied the opportunity to meet and get to know each other, due to the recklessness of the state and the criminal actions of its cold-blooded murderer.

* During 13 years in the foreign service, Daniel Ngwepe was involved in economic and political relations between South Africa and the US. He served on the board of Anglo American South Africa and is a senior adviser to the presidency's Public-Private Growth Initiative.

♦ VWB ♦

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