Reagan Zietsman has been sentenced to two life terms and 13 years subsequent to his conviction on charges of kidnapping, rape, murder and defeating the administration of justice. On Wednesday, August 26 Zietsman plead guilty to the rape and murder of six-year-old Delvina Europa in the small town of Elim.
The High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division, sitting at the Bredasdorp Sexual Offences Court, convicted Zietsman on August 28 for the kidnapping of six-year-old Delvina Europa, brutally raping her, her murder and defeating the administration of justice.
“It sentenced him to eight years imprisonment for kidnapping, life imprisonment for rape, life imprisonment for murder and five years imprisonment for defeating the administration of justice. The court ordered all the sentences to run concurrently condemning the accused to life imprisonment. It ordered that his name be recorded forthwith in the national register of sex offenders,” confirmed NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.
On March 24, 2019 Zietsman, who was friends with Europa’s father because they did drugs together, convinced her to help him look for her father. He lured her into the bushes far away from her home where he raped her. According to court documents, he covered her mouth and nose with his hand in order to stop her from screaming. He later discovered she had stopped breathing and was dead. He threw her body into a shallow pool of water to hide her body and rid it of any DNA evidence.
Later that day, a community search party ensued and Zietsman was questioned on her whereabouts, and he lied that he had not see her for fear the party would assault him.
Zietsman was arrested on March 26, 2019 after Europa’s body was discovered and a member of the community came forward to say the accused was seen with the girl shortly before she went missing.
In arguments in mitigation of sentence, the defence asked the court to sentence the accused to one life term as he has pleaded guilty, saved the court time and the State did not have to go through a lengthy process of proving a case.
The prosecutor, Advocate Maria Marshall, dismissed defense’s assertions and said the accused did not plead guilty because he felt responsible. She said there was overwhelming evidence against him as he was linked to the crime by DNA evidence and was seen walking with the child before she disappeared.
“The accused was advised and conceded that the charges of rape and murder in this case carry a prescribed sentence of life imprisonment each. He showed no remorse as he denied seeing the child when he was asked by the community. He went to work on a Monday and Tuesday as if nothing has happened,” said Marshall.
“He was convicted and sentenced for a similar offence on 18 January 2017 where he raped a 15-year-old girl. He received a suspended sentence. That sentence should have served as an albatross around his neck but that did not deter him. This shows the character of the person we are dealing with. He is a violent person. He has a perverse attitude of committing sexual offences against young people. The accused is a monster and a coward who preyed on a little innocent girl who did not deserve to die in the way she did,” she argued.
She stated that the Western Cape was experiencing high numbers of murders of children. In the last financial year, 75 children were killed in the Western Cape. There are 42 children who have lost their lives since the beginning of this year, reports the NPA.
“Our society is currently experiencing high levels of violent crime, especially against women and children, as was evident in recent publicised femicide cases. It is submitted that, were a crime is prevalent in society, a severe sentence may be justified in order that it may act as a deterrent to others,” Marshall said.
The court agreed and sentenced Zietsman accordingly. Acting DPP, Advocate Nicolette Bell welcomed the sentence and thanked the prosecutor and investigation team for their dedication and hard work.
“The prosecution of child murders is a key priority for the NPA. Various protocols, such as participating in child death reviews, are in place to ensure child murders are identified from the onset, that the investigation is prioritised and the prosecutions are successful. This matter is one such success. The NPA will continue to strive to bring justice to all victims of child murder and their families,” she added.