GEORGE NEWS - It may be 18 years ago that her gentle and loving daughter, Leslie van Zyl (28), was brutally murdered, but Christine Stewart-Brockbanks has never given up on seeing the killer brought to justice.
A George attorney, upon learning how the grieving mother struggles to come to terms with her daughter's violent death, made an application to the director of public prosecutions in Cape Town to reopen the investigation.
Stewart-Brockbanks (formerly Brockbanks) has asked through George attorney Dolf Louw that her daughter's clothes be re-examined for any forensic evidence that could link it to her killer. She is convinced this is the last avenue open to finding the murderer and sending him to jail.
Stewart-Brockbanks believes her daughter, who was murdered on 28 August 2000 at the King George Hotel in George where she was overnighting, knew her killer and even opened the bedroom door on that fateful night.
The murder docket reveals that a call was placed to her room from a telephone booth in York Street.
On 4 July a senior public prosecutor from the public prosecutor's office replied to the request and said the police had indicated that no new information had come forward. Louw then responded that forensic testing is the last humanly possible step that can be taken to convince Stewart-Brockbanks all avenues have been exhausted.
"We iterate that our client is not becoming any younger and, if humanly possible, she would like closure in this matter."
Stewart-Brockbanks is certain the knife-wielding attacker must have left some traces behind on Leslie's clothing and that forensic science has improved to the extent that a minuscule blood spatter or some microscopic matter could link it to her murderer.
Cries for help
On that fateful evening, Leslie tried to ward off the savage knife attack in her hotel bathroom. Hardened detectives were shocked to find the murder scene covered in blood. Tragically, a passer-by heard Leslie's faint calls for help and reported it to hotel staff who decided against intervening.
The puzzling inaction by dithering personnel and many baffling aspects of the murder have continued to haunt Stewart-Brockbanks and also the investigating officers who were unable to find any fresh leads in the intervening years.
Some of her valuables were left behind and the motive for her killing remains a mystery. For many years the George Herald published repeated pleas from Van Zyl's mother for any information that could track down the killer.
Stewart-Brockbanks says Van Zyl's father Arthur (Brockbanks) died of a broken heart a few years after his daughter's death. Many years later Stewart-Brockbanks married Ian Stewart and the couple moved back to Britain where she feels safer, but is unable to find peace. "There is not a second of the day that I do not think of my wonderful daughter."
As an avid watcher of British crime documentaries, she learnt how killers have been convicted with the aid of new forensic technology and DNA testing. She hopes the same methods can be used in South Africa to find justice for her daughter.