Cape Town – Sex workers rejoiced after former motor mechanic Johannes Christiaan de Jager was sentenced to life in jail for the “brutal and savage” murder of two teenagers.
Western Cape High Court acting Judge Chuma Cossie on Tuesday handed down three life sentences to run concurrently, finding there were no substantial and compelling circumstances allowing her to deviate from prescribed minimum sentences.
“This court has taken into account the personal circumstances of the accused. However, it is in agreement with the State that the accused has shown no signs of remorse during the trial and during mitigation of sentence,” she said.
“It is also mindful of the fact that two young lives were violated and such lives cannot be replaced.”
Outside court, members of the Sisonke sex workers’ movement ululated and jumped for joy at the sentences. Some carried posters stating: “We demand justice” and “Decriminalise sex work now”.
National Sisonke organiser Duduzile Dlamini shouted that she was happy that they were also regarded as human.
She said many crimes had been committed against her on the street but she had not reported them because of trouble with police and the justice system.
“I’ve been in the industry many years. This one (case) shows me that our voices are heard now and I’m going to motivate my colleagues to go back and review their cases.”
De Jager, 49, was last month convicted of killing and raping 18-year-old sex worker Hiltina Alexander in 2008 and killing 16-year-old Charmaine Mare last year. Both crimes were committed in Cape Town.
Cossie handed down a life sentence each for the rape and murder of Alexander.
He also received a life sentence for Mare’s murder.
Six years in jail were handed down for dismembering Mare’s corpse and three months for stealing her cellphone.