The man who “viciously‚ callously‚ and cruelly” murdered 16-year-old Franziska Blöchliger‚ will in all likelihood spend the rest of his life in prison.
Howard Oliver stood stone faced in the High Court in Cape Town on Wednesday as Judge Kate Savage handed down a life sentence for murder‚ a life sentence for two counts of rape‚ and 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances.
“This court stands firm against the continued abuse of women and children in our society. Women and children must be able to make use of public spaces safely in all communities across our country without the risk and fear of attack‚ bodily violation‚ or even loss‚” Savage said.
Oliver‚ from Westlake — near Tokai Forest where Franziska was murdered in March 2016 — had sought a lighter sentence because of his admission of guilt partway through his trial. Oliver penned two letters calling the murder the “biggest mistake of his life”.
Savage noted the admissions in her decision‚ but returned to Oliver’s inability to explain why he committed the crime other than noting financial need.
“When faced with the clear evidence for the State the accused comprehended‚ opportunistically so‚ the urgency of admitting his guilt on all counts‚ in an attempt to secure a lesser sentence for himself for the crimes he had committed. His belated admission is therefore no more than a neutral factor‚” Savage said.
Defence attorney Henk Carstens argued that because Oliver was a first offender in terms of sexual offences‚ held regular employment and showed remorse for his actions‚ he would be eligible to receive less than the prescribed minimums.
But Savage denied his appeals‚ finding there were no favorable or compelling circumstances.
“I have no sense of unease that an injustice will be done if the prescribed sentences are imposed on the accused or that the prescribed sentences would be a disproportionate response to the crimes committed by him‚” she said.
Oliver‚ a repeat offender with 10 prior convictions‚ is married and has two daughters under the age of five; a point he made to Savage: “As the father of two daughters I know what it would feel like to lose a child.”
Savage disagreed‚ citing Oliver’s decade-long drug habit and criminal record as indicative that parenting was not his top priority.
Despite only receiving two of the three life sentences the state requested‚ National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said he was pleased with the outcome.
“In this province we see women and children raped and murdered every day. As prosecutors we want to do our part to protect the women and children of this country‚” he said.