Roxanne Van Eck was 17 years old when she tragically lost her father. Leslie Cilliers, a dedicated policeman stationed at Table View Police Station was shot and killed while chasing suspects after an armed robbery in 2003.
A group of eight men robbed a Standard Bank in Atlantis on July 23, 2003. As they were making their getaway, various police were chasing after them. Cilliers and his partner managed to stop the men on Contermanskloof and made them step out of their vehicles. The last man to step out had an AK47 which he used to open fire, killing Cilliers on the scene. He was 38 years old at the time of his death.
“I’ll never forget being fetched from Table View High by the police and receiving the news. I didn’t have my dad with me when I got my drivers license or when I finished school or to walk me down the aisle and my 11-year-old son never got to meet his Oupa Leslie. My mother, my dad’s parents and his brother have not lived a day without feeling the effect of the loss in our lives,” said Roxanne.
Six of the men were caught, and the remaining two were apprehended years later for other robberies. After a three-year court case, they were sentenced to multiple life sentences for charges of armed robbery, attempted murder, and murder.
However, the family was not aware at the time that these charges run concurrently, equating to a served sentence of 25 years. The men were all aged between 18-25 at the time and will be in their 40s when they are released.
Fast forward to 2021, and one of the men is preparing to apply for early release. The Cilliers family is desperate to stop this from happening and is appealing to the public for help.
His daughter Roxanne explains, “The thought of that life sentence being reduced even further is completely unimaginable.
“I don’t think 25 years is enough. Life isn’t enough anymore. Him getting out at 40-something, he has a lot of life ahead of him. Time my dad didn’t have.”
Roxanne tells Cape Town ETC that in his 21 years as a policeman, Cilliers touched so many lives and made a great impact. Ever since she first made a Facebook post calling on residents to support their push to prevent the early release, she has been inundated with messages of support from the public.
She says people have called, emailed, and messaged to say what a great man her father was, how he had helped so many and made a real impact in the community throughout his years as a policeman.
She is now asking the public to put action behind their words. Anyone who feels they were a victim in terms of her father’s death or feel affected by having a convicted killer out on parole earlier than his sentence was due is encouraged to fill in a statement for Correctional Services to consider.
“I need your help. I need to get as many statements from our community stating that you are against an early release. Whether you knew my dad personally or whether just on principle you are against a murderer going free any earlier than he should, please get in contact with me so that I can send you the template to write a few words on. A few words is all it takes. I have seen this community come together in so many ways before, and I am hoping you will offer your support on this,” she said.
If you would like to write a statement, you can download it here: Statement template – Leslie Cilliers.
Please email your completed form to [email protected]
Picture/s: Roxanne Van Eck