Man who kidnapped, raped and murdered six-year-old girl had raped a child before, but got no jail time

26 August 2020 - 10:22
By Aron Hyman
Reagan Zietsman pleaded guitly to raping and murdering his friend's six-year-old daughter in Elim last year.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock Reagan Zietsman pleaded guitly to raping and murdering his friend's six-year-old daughter in Elim last year.

Reagan Zietsman kidnapped, raped and murdered his friend’s six-year-old daughter, Delvina Europa, in Elim, Cape Town, last year, but just over two years earlier he had been spared jail time for raping another child.

In court on Tuesday, Zietsman confessed to raping Delvina, and National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila confirmed that the 35-year-old was also convicted for the rape of a 12-year-old girl on January 18 2017.

However, instead of facing jail time, he was handed a five-year sentence suspended for five years with conditions. Those conditions did not prevent him claiming another victim, this time with fatal results.

In his plea agreement, Zietsman on Tuesday told the Bredasdorp circuit court of the Western Cape High Court that the night before Delvina’s murder he had visited her father, David Jagers, at his home. He said the two friends smoked mandrax and tik that evening,  March 23 2019.

The two parted ways after the drug use.

The next day, Zietsman woke and smoked mandrax again before heading to look for Jagers at his house. On his way there, he passed Delvina’s home, from where he kidnapped the child.

“I told her I was looking for her father. She accompanied me, ostensibly in search of her father. We walked over a field in the direction of a school, further away from the house of the deceased. I knew I did not have permission to take the deceased with me, thereby removing her from the lawful custody of her father, David Jagers, and/or Carol October [her mother],” read the plea agreement.

Zietsman said they arrived at bushes behind the school and when he was sure they were alone, he raped her.

He explained in detail how he forced himself on her while he used his hand to hold her mouth and nose closed to prevent her from shouting and breathing.

“To keep the deceased quiet during this ordeal, I decided to put my hand on the deceased’s mouth. I kept my hand on the deceased’s mouth and nose until she did not move. I realised she was dead when she made no movements,” he said.

He said he knew this act would kill her and this would make him guilty of murder.

To try to avoid being caught, Zietsman said he put Delvina’s body in shallow water to try to conceal it and to rinse his DNA from the body. He said in doing so, he knew he was obstructing the course of justice.

Zietsman said community members searching for the child asked him if he knew where he was. He said he told them he knew nothing, fearing they would assault him.

Zietsman didn’t dispute any of the DNA evidence which linked him to the crime.

Ntabazalila said the sentencing hearing is expected to continue on Wednesday, when the state will call witnesses in aggravation of sentence.

Speaking about the revelation that Zietsman had a previous conviction for the rape of a child for which he was not imprisoned, the head of the social work department at the University of the Western Cape, Dr Marcel Londt, reacted with exasperation.

“Whose best interest was served here? We certainly aren’t serving the interest of the first child, or this one,” she said.

Londt said when homicidal rapists get away with their crimes, this is an impetus to reoffend.

“Homicidal child rapists aren’t treatable. The only way to deal with them is very harshly and outside the community. There is no possible reason that can excuse someone who clearly is a danger to children to be given that sentence,” she said.

She said homicidal rapists would often groom their community into trusting them.

She said from Zietsman's affidavit, it was clear his act was done with “premeditation and perfect planning”.

“In his mind he’s already visualised what he was going to do. Raping her behind a school for the disabled, he’s taunting all of us to say 'catch me if you can',” she said.

“My question is: Are we all going to sit around and watch how the bodies of children pile up? Or are we only going to respond when it comes to ‘if it bleeds it leads’?”