Cape Town – The parents of murdered teen Franziska Blöchliger have, in a moving letter read out in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday, described losing their daughter as forever losing a piece of themselves.
“The loss of a child is the most traumatic experience. You lose a piece of yourself that can never be regained,” Andreas and Shireen Blöchliger said in the letter.
Howard Oliver, who on Tuesday admitted to raping and killing 16-year-old Franziska, was convicted of these crimes in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.
Franziska was murdered and raped on March 7, 2016, in the Tokai Forest in Cape Town.
She was also robbed of a cellphone, diamond ring and earphones.
Sentencing procedures were set to start on Wednesday and continue on Thursday.
Still in shock
In the letter read out in court, the Blöchligers said despite a year having lapsed since Franziska’s murder, they were still in shock over what had happened to her.
“The loss of a child is almost indescribable. There’s pain, there’s sadness, there’s anguish but acceptance is the hardest,” it said.
“To know that your child suffered and needed you, that is devastating.”
The Blöchligers described how their lives had drastically changed after Franziska’s murder.
Nightmares and insomnia
“We have moved house, changed schools, suffered though nightmares and insomnia, struggled with our marriage and feelings of blame and guilt, our belief in God has been tested.”
They said their younger daughter struggled to come to terms with the loss of her sister every day.
“We are left with the eternal question of why? How could one human being do this to another? How could an adult do this to a child?”
The Blöchligers said Franziska’s murder could never be explained or understood.
“There can never be any justification for taking her life. Her family and friends are left with the eternal grief and loss.
“We only hope that the person responsible for this brutal act of violence against an innocent child is not allowed to walk free to hurt another person.”
Regional National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said in court on Wednesday prosecutor Lenro Badenhorst had argued that Franziska suffered a gruesome death.
“The accused wrote a letter in April 2016 where he expressed remorse. Although he did express remorse then, the bottom line is that in May 2017 he still pleaded not guilty and denied that he was involved in the rape and murder of the girl. He took a chance pointing fingers at other people.
“I want to submit that through the thorough investigation of the police, they managed to arrest the correct perpetrator. We know he walked away from the scene with the cellphone of the deceased,” Badenhorst said.
He said Oliver had pointed fingers at others, but not himself.
“There are no substantial and compelling circumstances for this court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentences.
“Both parents of this girl attended counselling and the sister of the deceased also attended counselling. This is an addition to the loss for the parents,” Badenhorst said.
Ntabazalila said the NPA welcomed Oliver’s conviction.
“The conviction is one major step towards ensuring that Howard Oliver is sentenced to a long prison term that will ensure that he does not get an opportunity to hurt any other woman, person or child again.
“We hope this sends a very clear message that the NPA will do whatever is in its power within the confines of the law to ensure that crimes against women and children continue being prioritised,” he said.