‘The memories are still fresh and the pain is still too strong.’
FAMILY and friends of murdered Northern Cape farmer Willem van der Westhuizen, who was shot dead by an employer, indicated that they were pleased with the sentence handed down by the Northern Cape High Court on Friday.
Willem Olyn was sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting Van der Westhuizen on his farm Bont Heuwel in 2018.
Olyn was convicted on October 17, 2019 on one count of murder, three counts of pointing a firearm, three counts of common assault and one count each for theft, attempted murder, negligent driving, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.
Van der Westhuizen’s sister, Christene van der Westhuizen, said on Friday that although the case had taken almost three years to finalise, the family’s emotions were still raw.
“It is almost three years since my brother died but the pain still feels like it happened just yesterday. The pain is still raw. We miss him each and every second of the day. We are not sure when the loss and pain will ever ease,” she said tearfully.
Christene added that although they were relieved that the matter had been finalised, they were still working on getting to a point where they would be able to forgive Olyn.
“We are a Christian family and it is in our belief to forgive. If we were not able to have some kind of forgiveness for the accused, we would not be able to sit here today. We, however, are not at a point where we can wholly forgive him. The memories are still fresh and the pain is still too strong.”
Van der Westhuizen’s father, Gert van der Westhuizen, said they still lived with the memories of that fatal day.
“One cannot forget that day. When you enter or look outside the door at our house, you are constantly reminded of where my son was lying at the time of his death. We will never forget him,” he said.
A friend of Van der Westhuizen, Henry Tieties, just shook his head, weeping, when he was asked if he was able to forgive Olyn.
“I will never forgive him … he took my best friend away,” said Tieties.
He tearfully described that their close-knit group of friends had lost the “light” in the group.
“Willem was always cheerful and made everyone cheerful. He was the one that brought life to the group. We all miss him terribly. Our group of friends used to go fishing and hunting together. Nowadays the group attends fishing competitions in honour of our dear friend. We have printed T-shirts which we wear to the fishing and hunting events in honour of Willem. We will always remember him,” he said.