The Anene Booysen Story
As part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, Chanel September’s account of the trial.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, we bring you reporter Chanel September's account of her journey covering the Anene Booysen murder and rape trial. This piece was first published on 1 November 2013 when Booysen's rapist and killer Johannes Kana was sentenced to a double life sentence.
Eyewitness News reporter Chanel September - who has been covering the rape and murder of Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen since the news broke in February - presents an account of how the trial unfolded ahead of the sentencing of her rapist and killer Johannes Kana.
THE SAGA BEGINS
It has been nine months since the brutal rape and murder of Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen caused a nationwide outcry.
The 17-year-old had been out with friends at a local pub and just after 3am on 2 February she was seen walking home with Johannes Kana. She was raped, mutilated and left for dead at an RDP housing construction site. It later emerged in court that Anene had a crush on Kana.
South Africans - including President Jacob Zuma, who mentioned the incident in his State of the Nation Address - were shocked by violent nature of her death and demanded action.
The crime, which was described by many as senseless and an act of savagery, moved citizens and the government alike to prioritise the war against rape.
Just days later the 22-year-old Kana was arrested along with Jonathan 'Zwai' Davids.
Booysen had mentioned the name 'Zwai' before she died.
Davids was later released from custody after charges were dropped against him because no forensic evidence could link him to the crime.
In June, in a packed Bredasdorp Magistrate's Court, Kana made a formal confession that he had raped Anene, but denied killing her and insisted that she was still alive when he left the construction site.
The National Prosecuting Authority rejected his guilty plea on the rape charge because it said it had information that he had not told the full story of what happened on the day Anene was raped and killed.
The prosecution believed that it was Kana that murdered Booysen by disembowelling her.
Justice officials ensured that the case was fast-tracked and set down a date for trial a month later in the Swellendam Circuit Court.
The four week trial began on 7 October with Judge Patricia Goliath presiding over the matter.
More than 20 witnesses testified and the trial included an in-loco inspection where Booysen's last steps were retraced. The court visit to the crime scene kicked off with a visit to the pub where the teenager, Kana and her friends had been drinking on 2 February.
One of the witnesses, Crista Mentoor, pointed out to Judge Goliath, the prosecutor and Kana's lawyer where the group of friends had been standing at around 2am.
She also indicated the direction in which Booysen and Kana were last seen walking.
During the in-loco inspection, a number of community members arrived to support Kana. Very little mention was even made of Anene or the heinous crime that had occurred in the town.
The following week some of the doctors who testified said it was the worst case they've ever had to deal with.
Post-mortem results later confirmed the teenager died after being mutilated.
As the trial continued Kana's lawyers expressed concern about the investigation of the case. They referred the court to what it regarded as a series of police blunders.
The court heard the crime scene had been left unattended and that a police officer had failed to read out the accused's rights to him.
The judge then ruled that evidence collected from the accused while pointing out the crime scene in February could not be used.
The crime was also initially thought to be a gang rape but there had been no forensic evidence linking anyone else, or even Kana, to Booysen's attack.
A bra that belonged to Anene had a blood stain on it.
But again, no forensic evidence could be decisively linked to the accused.
Several witnesses however testified that Kana was the last person Anene was seen alive with.
SUPPORT FOR KANA
Kana's family has rallied behind him since the trial began.
His aunt Mina Sarels told Eyewitness News the family would stand by him come what may.
An emotionally distraught Sarels admitted she loved her nephew like her own son.
Sarels said Kana stayed with her for at least three years and she still couldn't believe he had been accused of such a crime.
She said Kana told her he was doing fine and wanted her to know he was being treated well in prison.
At the same time, some Bredasdorp residents believed that the trial had been fair and added that they were confident in the justice system.
Sporting a brand new 28s prison tattoo in the same week as judgment and sentencing, Johannes Kana looked his usual cool and calm self in the dock.
He was eventually found guilty of both rape and murder charges.
And despite his confession about only raping Anene and not murdering her, Judge Goliath ruled that Kana was the one who mutilated her - an act that led to her painful death.
The judge also said it was highly unlikely that any other person would have been able to attack the teenager in such a short time span.
Sentencing proceedings began on 30 October - the day Anene would have celebrated her 18 birthday.
The state requested double life sentences to be handed down, one life sentence for each of the crimes.
The prosecution felt it was just for Kana be held accountable for his actions.
Kana's lawyer, however, argued that there was enough cause for the judge to impose a more lenient sentence.
But for Anene's family, no amount of time in jail for the man who raped and murder her will do justice.
They told Eyewitness News that whether Kana was sentenced to 10 years or walked free, it could never bring her back.