Cape Town – Serial sex offender Francois Coetzee is a free man after spending almost two decades behind bars.
The 42-year-old was released from the Knysna Correctional Centre on Thursday after spending more than 19 years in prison for a series of violent crimes against women including attempted rape, indecent assault, assault and the 1995 attempted murder of photographer Alix Carmichele who he savagely attacked with a pickaxe handle and stabbed with a knife.
Carmichele, who was attacked at a friend’s home in Noetzie, suffered a fractured skull, badly broken arm and knife wounds to the chest.
Coetzee was also convicted of attempted rape of a 17-year-old school friend at a dance at the Hornlee Hotel in Knysna in 1994.
He repeatedly punched, kicked, throttled and bit the teenager to a point where she lost consciousness before ripping her clothes off. Whether he raped her was never established.
He was also found guilty of indecent assault and housebreaking after he had climbed into the bedroom of a 25-year-old acquaintance who he then “indecently fondled” in her sleep, before she awoke.
Carmichele said on Thursday that she was no longer afraid of the man who almost took her life.
“He has robbed me of too much already and I refuse to allow him to rob me of even more. I refuse to live in fear,” Carmichele, who still lives on the Garden Route, said.
She said she believed that Coetzee would soon “misbehave” and end up behind bars again and that he had proven her theory during a recent short-lived stint while on parole.
Coetzee was released on parole in October last year, but was arrested in May for contravening his parole conditions after he was caught – by means of his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet – near the home one of his victims.
This meant Coetzee had to serve the rest of his sentence behind bars, which ended on Thursday.