Sentence cannot replace Zelda

Zelda van Niekerk, 45, was killed during a robbery on the N1 highway on Friday afternoon.

The day of reckoning has arrived for the killers of biker Zelda van Niekerk.

Following their conviction for the murder of Ms Van Niekerk, Lucian Ackerman, 35, and Michael Pietersen, 36, were sentenced, in the Western Cape High Court, on Wednesday February 5.

Ackerman was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder, 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, 10 years for the possession of an illegal firearm and five years for the possession of ammunition. The sentences run concurrently.

Co-accused Michael Pietersen received 20 years imprisonment for murder, 10 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances with five years running concurrently.

But Ms Van Niekerk’s friend and fellow biker, Jaco Wessels, said no matter what the sentence was going to be “it cannot replace a life”.

It’s been more than a year and a half since the brutal murder of the Table View mother at the side of the N1 close to Century City (“Mass ride for slain biker,” Tabletalk, October 5, 2018).

Ms Van Niekerk, 45, had been on her way to escort a matric-ball couple in Fish Hoek. She was attacked when she stopped at the side of the road to wait for a fellow biker.

Bikers from various clubs attended the sentencing at the Western Cape High Court last Wednesday, February 5.

“While the court sent a very strong message to the two who pleaded guilty by sentencing them appropriately to the legal requirements for the crime, any member of the community would have wanted something more. But there really is nothing more to want. In truth any demonstration for a harsh sentence is nothing more than a cry of despair by a community who still have to face the onslaught. A community left feeling violated,” said Mr Wessels.

Kensington community leader Kevin Alexander felt the sentences should run consecutively and not concurrently.

“They are still young. The chances of them being rehabilitated once they are out of prison is small. There is a big chance they will do it again,” he said.

There was a big problem with illegal guns and illegal ammunition in Kensington and Factreton, he said.

The bridge where Ms Van Niekerk had been killed was infamous for criminal activity.

Mr Wessels and fellow biker Linlee Solms have organised mass rides against violence in 2018 and 2019 to honour Ms Van Niekerk (“Zelda gone but not forgotten,” Tabletalk, October 2, 2019).

Mr Wessels said they planned to continue with the rides. He thanked the Metro police who, he said, had “hunted for (Zelda’s) killers when SAPS did not”.

“I seldom see the judge commenting on the work the cops did when nobody else was interested. The cops who take your grief and make their own. Without them there would have been no arrest. No suspects. No evidence. No gun. No trial. No plea. No sentence,” he said.