CAPE TOWN, South Africa – For years, Johannes Cilliers would shed a tear when he thought of his murdered daughter. Strangled and raped in the vineyard of a farm near Stellenbosch, he never got over her violent death.
For a decade, Felicity Cilliers’ murder remained unsolved. But on Thursday, the tears he wiped from his cheek with a handkerchief were accompanied by a smile.
A year after being arrested when the cold case was reopened, family friend Andrew Jordaan was handed the maximum sentence in the Western Cape High Court.
“It almost feels like even that is too little,” a sickly Cilliers, 65, said, leaning on a walking stick. “But I will take it.”
It has been 12 years since Felicity’s body was found in May 2007. Her face had been near unrecognisable as her attacker had beaten her with a rock over the head.
She was a mom of three sons.
Her youngest, only a few months old when Felicity was murdered, died of an illness the same year as his mother.
“Her children never got over her death,” her sister, Dalene Cilliers, told News24 on the court steps.
Both her surviving nephews were on drugs, still battling to deal with their pain, she said.
Dalene and Jordaan had been friends at the time of her sister’s murder. They used to socialise at the Cilliers home and drink together.
Felicity, a seasonal farmworker, would sometimes join them, but did not consider Jordaan a friend.
Dalene recalled the last time she saw her sister – the day of her murder on May 26. Felicity had said she was going to a 21st birthday party, but Dalene had opted to stay home.
It is believed that Jordaan had lured Felicity to a secluded part of Longlands Farm in Vlottenburg, near Stellenbosch, where he had raped and throttled her.
A passer-by found her body four days later in the vineyard.
A month after Felicity’s death, Jordaan was arrested after committing a similar crime, Dalene said.
He served a 10-year prison term.
Despite this, she still did not suspect him of being behind her sister’s murder.
Dalene said her murder was re-investigated last year, when detectives finally made a breakthrough through DNA evidence.
Jordaan, who had been released on parole, was arrested in Ladysmith in July 2018 and charged with Felicity’s rape and murder.
Judge Lister Nuku, upon handing Jordaan the maximum sentence on Thursday, said the convicted killer had not shown any remorse for his crimes and had not even apologised to her family.
He described Felicity’s murder as heinous, calling Jordaan’s actions and crimes callous.
Dalene said she was happy that the family finally knew what happened to Felicity all those years ago, as well as who had caused her death.
“Maybe it will make my father feel better. He is sickly and has problems with his legs. And he still cries a lot for Felicity,” she added. “I am glad they got him. I think she can finally rest now.”