The angry family of Jill-Paula Fernandez, 49, watched helplessly from the public gallery at Bishop Lavis Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday as the murder case against her boyfriend, Patrick Hendricks, 49, was withdrawn, following warnings from the Magistrate to the detective.
Jill’s brother, Kurt, 45, says this comes a month after the detective, known only as Sergeant Esterhuizen, was instructed to submit the post-mortem report to the court so the case could proceed to trial.
Jill died on 22 December after allegedly being beaten with a vibracrete slab and left to die in the street.
The ferocity of the blows, which caused Jill to swallow her false teeth, sparked an outcry among residents while her berk went on the run.
He later handed himself in at Pinelands Police Station.
More than 800 residents attended the funeral of the beloved child minder who worked for an adoption agency.
Hendricks appeared briefly in court wearing a green shirt and pants and smiled as he was informed that the case was being withdrawn.
Afterwards, Jill’s distressed relatives were seen crying outside at the court gates.
Kurt says the family has now laid a formal complaint against the detective who, he says, despite being called into a meeting by Station Commander Brigadier Christopher Jones, failed to collect crucial evidence and interview witnesses, including a 12-year-old boy who tried to stop the assault.
“From January we never heard from him and the case kept getting postponed,” says Kurt.
“In May I went to Tygerberg Mortuary where they told me the post-mortem had been completed, but needed to be collected by him.
“In June, the magistrate ordered that the detective report to court about why the reports are still outstanding.”
The angry brother says a month later, the detective lied about the reports.
“He said he needed a week and they gave him two weeks. He lied under oath when he said it (the report) was between Cape Town and Tygerberg.
“I went to Tygerberg and they said it was still there and he never made an application.
“The magistrate warned him last month that if they failed to complete it, the case would be thrown out.
“I can’t believe after reporting him to his bosses he still didn’t do his work and now this guy is free.”
Kurt now fears they will never get justice for Jill.
“The State has failed Jill and this happens in Women’s Month. We are not leaving it like this.”
Community worker, Kathy Cronje, who has protested at every court appearance, said: “We are feeling very upset, the f***ing police is corrupt.”