The gangster who shouted, “I told you that I will get you”, when he killed Cape Town Metro Police officer Ben Koopman was sentenced to life in prison by the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.
“The killing of police [officers] is calculated to render the country to lawlessness and to anarchy,” Acting Judge Daniel Thulare told Dixie Boys gangster Christopher Jantjies.
Jantjies was convicted of murder, aggravated robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, he was sentenced – and besides getting a life sentence for the murder of Koopman – he was also given 15 years for aggravated robbery, 15 years for unlawful possession of a firearm, and five years for unlawful possession of ammunition. The latter are to run concurrently with the life sentence.
Koopman was shot dead on February 15, 2016, as he was about to get into his official car after having lunch at home in Avon Street, Eerste River.
His son Quilin, then 18 years old, was seeing him off.
Koopman was about to get into the metro police vehicle when two men suddenly appeared next to him. He was shot in the chest, kicked in the face, and his service pistol and radio were stolen.
The words, “I told you I will get you”, were shouted at him by his assailants before they ran away.
Thulare said that Koopman had availed himself to be a witness in a case against the Dixie Boys gang that Jantjies belonged to.
Thulare said the attack on Koopman was well planned, and was driven by Jantjies’ ego and a desire to make the Dixie Boys seem more powerful in the area.
Thulare said that Koopman was so dedicated to keeping his community safe that the City of Cape Town should rename one of the streets in the area “Ben Koopman Street”.
‘Now I stand alone’
Wearing a black and red Adidas top, Jantjies maintained his innocence right up to his sentence being handed down, asking his legal representative Henk Carstens to tell Thulare again on Wednesday that he did not shoot Koopman, known as “Oom Ben”.
Jantjies was only arrested in September 2016 because Koopman’s son and another witness initially sent the police on a wild goose chase, as they were scared that the gangsters would kill them too if they spoke up.
Quilin’s school had even been visited by people looking for him, and he was moved out of the area. The other witness said he did not trust the police.
Both eventually decided to trust the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority and are now in witness protection. They testified in camera.
In his judgment, Thulare said that, after listening to them, he could understand why they had initially lied to the police.
During the pre-sentencing submissions on Wednesday, the court heard that Jantjies is a 28-year-old father of two small children, who earned around R2 500 a week running a vegetable stall before his arrest. He had three previous drug-related convictions, and one for theft, and had already been declared unfit to possess a firearm.
Koopman’s widow Katriena also took to the stand to say that her husband of 31 years had always wanted to be a police officer and that the family was lost without him.
“My husband’s death had a terrible effect on our family life, because now I stand alone,” she said.
She said their sons had started drinking, and that their daughter wrote letters to her dead father because she missed him so much.
She could not even sleep at night after the shooting, standing at the window peering through the curtain at the slightest noise.
Her employers at a care home, where she is an assistant, let her sleep at work in the afternoon to help her cope.
Outside the court, Koopman’s widow said she was pleased with the sentence.
“I feel free in the knowledge that justice has been served today,” she told Correspondent.
NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila welcomed the sentence.
He said Koopman was not just an ordinary person, but a police officer who was gunned down on duty, and in full uniform, next to a marked car, in front of his house and his son.
“Worst of all, [after] the accused has gunned him down, he kicked him in his face and in his stomach while he was lying there dying. It was a callous act.”