Mother’s court date with son’s killer: ‘I don’t forgive him’

Henry

Kristi Theron had an appointment with her child’s killer when she testified for aggravation of punishment in the regional court at Lichtenburg in the North West on Thursday. Abraham Abebe Ergicho was shortly afterwards sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 21-year-old Francois Swart.

“I had an appointment with him to tell him what was going on in my heart and yesterday I had the opportunity to fulfill that appointment in court,” Theron says of the poignant victim impact report she presented in court on Thursday read out her son’s killer.

“I tried to give him some life lessons about what it is to be a decent person. And I told him he failed the test.

“I told him that he put my child through incredible pain.

“I also told him I don’t forgive him. I hate him with every breath.”

Theron says she couldn’t help but be honest. “That’s how I feel.”

“If you had told me ten years ago that you would hear these words coming out of my mouth, I would have told you that you didn’t know me. This is not who I am. But trauma takes you to places that are unknown. You experience emotions that you cannot interpret.”

Ergicho, an Ethiopian, was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for the murder of Francois, as well as 15 years each for two charges of aggravated robbery.

Theron tells RNews that she saw Ergicho in court three times during the course of the case. “It stopped my soul when I saw him live for the first time,” she recalls. “My emotions got the better of me that day.”

Theron was calm when she gave her testimony in court on Thursday.

“But inside me everything shook.”

Now she feels mentally drained, but also relieved that Ergicho has finally been sentenced.

“I actually didn’t admit that my child was gone until now, because I didn’t want to admit it. Now I can for the first time with it deal that he is no longer here and finds rest. He must now account for what he did in that moment.”

Francois was shot in the neck with a gas pistol during a robbery in Lichtenburg in 2018. He later died in hospital.

RNews previously reported that on the night in question in May 2018 around 01:00 after work, together with Jan Louw (21), a colleague, Francois went to buy soft drinks at a petrol station in the town.

At that stage, Francois was the manager at the Spur restaurant in Lichtenburg.

Two people were arguing with the man behind the counter of the shop at the gas station when one of the men suddenly held a gas pistol to Swart’s neck and fired three shots. The man behind the counter fled and called the police.

Ergicho (37) was finally arrested on 17 December 2020 after more than two and a half years at large. He was later denied bail and tried unsuccessfully to escape once during his trial.

Theron says Ergicho also showed no remorse in court. “Nothing. It’s so good you’re talking to a wall. But at least after five and a half years I could say how I felt.

“Whether he heard a word of it, I don’t know. But it was the appointment I promised myself I was going to keep.”