Kathleen Meyer, of Lotus River, said she has forgiven the man who killed her daughter, Tracey-Lee, three years ago.
Tracey-Lee, 24, was found raped and strangled on September 12 2013 (“Young mom strangled”, Southern Mail, September 18 2013).
Johan Lewis, 41, was sentenced to 47 years and six months by the Western Cape High Court, on Friday July 22, for the attacks on Tracey-Lee and another woman who he also kidnapped, raped and attempted to kill in 2010.
He was sentenced to 18 years for Tracey-Lee’s murder. In the other case, he was given 10 years for a first rape and another 10 years for a second rape, seven years for attempted murder, two years for kidnapping and six months for assault.
The court ordered that some of the sentences run concurrently so Lewis will serve a 35 years behind bars.
Southern Mail visited Tracey-Lee’s family to see how they have been coping since her death.
Even before the sentencing, Ms Meyer said she had made peace with whatever the outcome was going to be.
Ms Meyer said Tracey-Lee would always be remembered as a “friendly and charitable” woman who spoke to everyone.
She was a single mother and her daughter, Shiloh, now 6, was only three at the time of her death.
“Shiloh doesn’t remember much of her mother, but only one incident, when her mom boiled eggs for breakfast,” said Ms Meyer.
Ms Meyer said Shiloh has been undergoing psychological treatment since her mother died and will also soon be seeing a grief counsellor.
She said the family were devastated, especially Ms Meyer’s mother Martha, who had looked after Tracey-Lee as a child while Ms Meyer worked during the day. Tracey-Lee’s father Gary “broke down” after he heard about his daughter’s murder, said Ms Meyer.
“On the Saturday before she was murdered, before she left to go out, I told her to be safe. She just smiled and said, ‘I am always safe’”.
Ms Meyer said it had been difficult to come to terms with Tracey-Lee’s death.
“I often have visions that she will open our front door to come inside,” said Ms Meyer.
Tracey-Lee had been working at a toy store not far from home before she died.
She had planned a birthday party for Shiloh and Ms Meyer said they still held the party two months after Tracey-Lee’s death and collected the Mickey Mouse party cake which Tracey-Lee had ordered for her daughter.
Ms Meyer’s sister Eleanor van Graan said Tracey-Lee had asked if she could join her and her grandfather, Louis, to go to the New Apostlic church on the Wednesday before she was killed. “She was talking to everyone at church, as if she was saying goodbye,” said Ms Van Graan.
Ms Meyer said the last time she saw Tracey-Lee, before she walked out of the house, she said she wanted to talk to her about something. “I am still wondering what she wanted to tell me,” said Ms Meyer.
Tracey-Lee’s aunty, Jenny Williams, said details of her murder were still a mystery because the accused kept on changing his story and at first said he didn’t know her.
“Tracey-Lee went out with a friend. On the morning of Thursday September 12, she was found strangled in a rented house, not far from her home. The neighbour who lived on the other side of the rented house, which was divided into two sections, in Third Avenue, said she heard screams in the backyard, ‘please help me, he is going to rape me’.”
Ms Williams said the family are satisfied with the sentence handed down to Lewis. “Justice was served, because he can’t hurt anyone’s child again.”
She said she was “ thankful” for the detectives and court officials who played a role in putting him behind bars.