Women For Change is appalled by the sentence handed down to Xolani du Preez for the brutal murder of Suritha Alting.

On 12 November 2022, Suritha Alting, 28, was walking home from a restaurant near in home in Richwood, Cape Town, when she was robbed and murdered by Xolani du Preez, then 17 years old.

Xolani stabbed Suritha 16 times – three times in the chest, once in the abdomen, and the rest in other parts of her body. Suritha was taken to a nearby medical facility by an ambulance, but she later died due to injuries sustained.

Xolani was arrested a couple of days later, remanded into custody, and he pleaded guilty to murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances under the Child Justice Act.

On 28 November 2023, Xolani Du Preez, now 18 years old, was sentenced to two years and 245 days in a youth care centre. He will then serve eight years in prison once he has completed his time in the youth care facility. However, after completing his sentence at the youth care centre, Xolani will return to court, where it will be determined if the 8-year prison sentence will be imposed or if it will be reduced.

According to the Child Justice Act Framework, the purpose of the Act is “to minimise children’s contact with the criminal justice system, and to use detention only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.” The Act imposes maximum sentencing terms and recommends that rather than detention, children go through rehabilitative interventions aimed at preventing reoffending. The Act stipulates that minors can receive a maximum sentence of five years of compulsory residence at a child and youth care centre and/or a maximum of 25 years imprisonment.

“I welcome the media attention this duly requires and will assist various organisations and petition the NPA to review this matter to ensure that justice is served for Suritha. I will continue this fight for justice,” says Brett Steensma, a local GBV activist who was actively engaged in assisting to track the perpetrator/s down.

As is evident, even under the mandates of the Act, Xolani’s sentence is shockingly lenient. In a similar case in 2019, a 17-year-old was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for stabbing his teacher to death. Therefore, the question remains: Why was Xolani Du Preez not given a harsher sentence for the brutal murder of Suritha? Where is the justice for Suritha and her family? A sentence of, effectively, less than three years for viciously taking a life is outrageous.

Women For Change calls for perpetrators to be held accountable for their crimes and for justice to be served to victims and their families. We demand justice for Suritha and her loved ones.