Sending a strong message . . . was in the public’s best interest, especially in the light of the seriousness of the crime- Judge
THE 20-YEAR-old man who raped and murdered Strydenburg resident Shannon Wilson in June last year was sentenced in the Northern Cape High Court to an effective 22 years in prison.
Shortly after the sentence was handed down to George Hoorniet on Friday, Sonia Wilson, the mother of the deceased, said that while she welcomed the sentence, she would never be able to forget her murdered daughter and would not wish a similar fate on any parent.
Hoorniet was sentenced to 22 years for murder and an additional 18 years for rape following the incident more than a year ago.
Shannon’s body was found by a passer-by near a local reservoir in Strydenburg in the early morning hours of June 4 2017.
Her body had been covered with rocks, with only her legs visible. She was wearing sneakers and jeans that were pulled down to her knees.
It was later established that she had been raped by Hoorniet before he murdered her.
After Acting Judge Willem Coetzee handed down the sentence, Sonia said that the family and the community of the Northern Cape town were still coming to terms with the brutal crime and had been expecting Hoorniet to be given a life sentence on each of the charges.
“A few weeks back I went to my daughter’s grave to pay my respects on the one-year anniversary of her murder,” Wilson said. “Even now, it feels like we only lost her yesterday as her memory is still very fresh.
“She was a good and kind child – a special person with her whole life ahead of her. This crime took her from us and while we have to accept what has happened, I’m not sure we will ever forget.”
Regarding her sentiments towards her daughter’s killer, the mother said that she struggled to understand how anyone could commit such a heinous act.
“I never really knew him (Hoor-niet) nor his background but I struggle to view him as a person,” she said.
“I am glad to be able to put the trial behind me and am satisfied with the sentence, but I was expecting him to be given double life.
“The whole community was appalled by the crime and he needed to be given a harsh sentence to send a clear message that this type of offence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Nobody should ever have to go through what we have endured.”
During Friday’s court proceedings, Coetzee stated that he was satisfied that there were sufficient circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence for the violent offences, including the age of the accused, the absence of previous convictions, his level of intoxication on the night of the incident and limited education.
Coetzee further pointed out that evidence that Hoorniet had aggression and conflict resolution issues also needed to be taken into account while all of these factors needed to be considered collectively to warrant a lesser sentence.
However, Coetzee emphasised that sending a strong message that similar acts were unacceptable and would be harshly dealt with, was in the public’s best interest, especially in the light of the seriousness of the crime.
“The community was shocked (by the incident) and wants sentences that will deter others from doing the same,” said Coetzee. “There is no other option but long-term incarceration that will provide an opportunity for rehabilitation.
“This should be grabbed with both hands in order for you to be released as a contributing member of society,” Coetzee told Hoorniet.
“On the charge of murder, I sentence you to 22 years. On count two, of rape, I sentence you to 18 years. These sentences are to be served concurrently.”