Jurgen Vandekeere is set to appear at Pretoria High Court today for the alleged murder and rape of 20-year-old Chantelle Barnard, reports Benoni City Times.
Vandekeere, a Belgian national, handed himself over to the police after he had been on the run since 9 September 2013, as he failed to appear in the Delmas High Court for the start of his trial.
Barnard was found raped and murdered in Brentwood Park, Benoni on 1 April 2011, after she went missing earlier that day. Vandekeere was sighted at the crime scene by Barnard’s mother.
Barnard had disappeared on 1 April 2011 after dropping off keys at the home of Vandekeere’s father, who was her landlord at the time.
Just before he was due to stand trial, Vandekeere absconded in 2013, and despite being sighted at Maputo International Airport in Mozambique, remained at large. In the years following this, his image was widely circulated on social media, with calls for the public to help law enforcement recapture him.
Private investigator Deon Pieterse tried to trace Vandekeere, telling DispatchLive this was made difficult by the fact that the alleged rapist changed his image and left the country under an assumed identity.
He added that he was not yet aware of why Vandekeere handed himself in.
It’s possible he has been back in South Africa for several years, with the Sunday Times reporting in 2015 that a private investigator claimed he was living in Benoni on the East Rand of Johannesburg.
Timeline of events:
April 2011: Vandekeere allegedly raped Barnard and slit her throat before cleaning her body. Her mother discovered Chantelle’s body when she entered the house and saw Jurgen with bite marks and his hands in bandages. A few days later, the accused was due to appear in the Benoni Magistrate’s Court, where he was expected to face charges relating to Chantelle’s murder.
December 2011: Vandekeere was denied bail in the Benoni Magistrate’s Court and appealed the decision to the high court.
January 2012: Vandekeere got released on R20,000 bail.
September 2013: A warrant of arrest was issued for Vandekeere for the alleged rape and murder of Barnard, after he failed to appear in the Delmas High Court.
November 2013: Vandekeere was spotted at Maputo International Airport, Mozambique, but wasn’t caught.
June 2015: Sunday Times reports that a private investigator believed Vandekeere was back in SA and hiding in Benoni.
January 2020: Vandekeere handed himself over to the police.
(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa)