Killer of magistrate Romay van Rooyen sentenced

Magistrate, who was found murdered inside her home. Picture: Supplied

Magistrate, who was found murdered inside her home. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 2, 2024


The Mitchell’s Plain man who strangled magistrate Romay van Rooyen has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after entering into a plea deal with the State.

Cassidy Hartzenberg, 20, was convicted and sentenced at the Western Cape High Court on Friday after he detailed the attack on his aunt in her Marina Da Gama home in September 2022.

Van Rooyen, who had presided at the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court, was found dead in her Marina Da Gama home with no signs of forced entry.

The 53-year-old had left work that Friday to attend a family gathering. Her Toyota RAV4 had been taken, and was later found near Mitchells Plain.

The Hawks swooped on Hartzenberg at his Mitchells Plain home.

The house of Magistrate Romay van Rooyen. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

According to the State’s case, he strangled his aunt and stole her car and an unknown amount of money.

At the time of his arrest, police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that he was a pallbearer Van Rooyen’s funeral.

In his plea statement, Hartzenberg said he was dropped at his aunt’s home and invited inside. He said he asked her to help him with money for a job application but she refused and proceeded to her bedroom, where he admitted to pouncing on her.

“When I arrived in her bedroom, she was facing away from me and I put my hands around her neck and strangled her. The deceased resisted and fought for her life.

“I could not stop what I was doing to the deceased and I could not control my anger,” he said in his plea statement.

Hartzenberg added that he knew he would kill his aunt with his actions and decided to apply pressure until she stopped resisting.

He said he panicked when he realised what he had done and remained at the house with her body until the early hours of the next day.

Cassidy Hartzenberg. File Picture: Rafieka Williams

Hartzenberg said he left in her car and later abandoned the vehicle along Jakes Gerwel Drive.

He admitted to being a drug user but did not use this in his defence.

“I co-operated with the police after my arrest and made a pointing out. I am remorseful for my actions and take full responsibility for what I have done.”

In his judgement, Judge Derek Wille, said he was satisfied with the plea deal, and sentenced Hartzenberg to 20 years for murder and six years for car theft. He ordered that both sentences run concurrently.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila, said while they are happy with the outcome it was a sad day for legal professionals in Cape Town.

“(The victim) was a former colleague who was in the NPA for years but later moved on to the Magistrate’s Court. It is a very sad day that we are handing down a sentence to someone who confirms that the magistrate was looking after him and his family emotionally and financially. They had a good relationship.”

Ntabazalila says Van Rooyen had spent most of her career fighting against gender-based violence.

“She sent people to prison for crimes such as this, only for her to be a victim of such a crime.”