DA welcomes life sentence handed to five-year-old Chantelle Makwena’s killer

Issued by Andrew Whitfield MP – DA Shadow Minister of Police
10 Feb 2023 in Press Statements

The DA welcomes the life sentence handed to a Gqeberha man who was found guilty of the violent rape and murder of five-year-old Chantelle Makwena.

Little Chantelle, from Rocklands in Nelson Mandela Bay, was brutally raped and killed in August 2019 by a man out on bail for another rape. He dumped her lifeless body in a pit latrine.

Her killer, Ricardo Gysman, initially pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape and the murder but was found guilty and was today sentenced in the Gqeberha High Court to two life sentences and 10 years, to run concurrently.

Due to the backlog in processing DNA at the SAPS National Forensic Laboratory, it took two full years after Chantelle’s murder before Gysman was arrested and appeared in court.

Gysman was initially taken in for questioning shortly after the rape and murder of Chantelle but was released pending the results of DNA testing.

It is unacceptable that a violent criminal like Gysman was allowed to walk free in our community for two years because the SAPS allowed the DNA backlog to balloon to millions of untested samples at the time.

The DA has been at the forefront of fighting against the massive DNA backlog precisely because of tragic cases like the one of Chantelle Makwena. Victims and families of victims of violent crime suffer the most horrific and unacceptable extended trauma from delayed justice because of these DNA backlogs.

Last year, in a written response to questions I raised, police minister Bheki Cele said a police forensic science laboratory in Gqeberha was on track to be completed by 2 February 2023.

When it is finally commissioned, the laboratory will assist in expediting DNA testing for samples collected within the Eastern Cape and help to keep violent criminals behind bars.

The deadline has come and gone, but still, there is no DNA analysis capability at the laboratory in the Bay.

I will now write to the minister requesting feedback on when we can expect the laboratory to become operational.

The police are losing the war against gender-based violence due to their inability to timeously process DNA that would link violent offenders to crimes against women and children.

Victims and their loved ones are being denied their right to justice due to the incompetence of a minister who cares very little for the people of South Africa.