Teen accused of magistrate's murder is her nephew, who was pallbearer at her funeral

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A photo of Magistrate Romay van Rooyen displayed at her memorial service.
A photo of Magistrate Romay van Rooyen displayed at her memorial service.
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach
  • Cassidy Hartzenberg has been charged with the murder of his aunt, Magistrate Romay van Rooyen.
  • He made his first appearance in the Simon's Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
  • The teenager was one of the pallbearers at Van Rooyen's funeral.

The teen who appeared in court in connection with the murder of Magistrate Romay van Rooyen, is her nephew who was a pallbearer at her funeral just days ago.

Cassidy Hartzenberg, 18, cut a lonely figure in the dock of the Simon's Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Two days after his arrest at his home in Mitchells Plain, Hartzenberg heard that he would remain in jail until his next court appearance on 6 October. He is being represented by a Legal Aid representative and intends to apply for bail.

He had been one of the hundreds of mourners who paid their respects at Van Rooyen's funeral on Saturday, where colleagues sang her praises for her dogged pursuit of justice for victims of crime.

After a two-week Hawks investigation, he was identified and arrested.

National Prosecuting Authority provincial spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said according to the charge sheet, the State alleges that Hartzenberg strangled Van Rooyen whereafter he stole her vehicle and an unknown amount of cash.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, who attended the court proceedings, said Van Rooyen died of a lack of oxygen.

He said the Hawks had a more than prima facie case against the accused, although the investigations are continuing.

"We believe that we have a very strong case," he said, adding that there was a pointing out and "other things" linking the accused to the murder.

READ | 'I screamed, I shouted, I shook her': Father describes finding murdered magistrate Romay van Rooyen

Van Rooyen was murdered in her home in Red Roman Street, Marina da Gama, where she lived over weekends. Based at the Vredenburg Magistrate's Court, she lived in the West Coast town of Langebaan during the week so she could be closer to work.

Cassidy Hartzenberg attended the funeral of Romay van Rooyen (53). He is accused of her murder.
Son Jonathan Lestrade, Son

Initially feared to have been murdered as a result of her work, her family maintained throughout that she had no qualms about her safety in relation to her dangerous job.

However, they did not believe that she had been killed during a robbery gone wrong.

Her father, Roman, found her home undisturbed and all her valuables untouched when he discovered her body in her bedroom two weeks ago. He had gone to check on her after her loved ones were unable to reach her by phone.

It is understood that there was no sign of forced entry, compounding the belief that she had known the killer.

Only her vehicle had been missing; it was found abandoned the next day in Mitchells Plain. 

According to those close to her, she had lived for her loved ones and would not hesitate to do what she could to provide for them, especially her nieces and nephews.

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