Neighbours of ‘Springs monster’ too scared to ‘interfere’

2014-06-01 15:02

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She heard screams and could hear him repeatedly banging his wife’s head against the wall.

Sometimes, she says, she saw the man hitting his wife with a whip.

She often snuck his five children some bread when they came begging for something to eat and she saw that they were covered in bruises.

But like so many others who dealt with the man nicknamed the “Springs Monster” in the past few years, 20-year-old Zelda Burr-Dixon said nothing?–?she did not want to interfere.

“I was afraid of him. I’m still afraid of him,” she told City Press’s sister paper Rapport this week, in tears and with her arms tightly wrapped around her two children.

Burr-Dixon and her husband, Stefan, rented a flat in the back garden of the “house of horrors” for a year.

Then their landlord, the 36-year-old man who was arrested this week and charged with abuse, defeating the administration of justice, attempted murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, allegedly threatened to assault the young mother.

So she and her family decided to move.

“I am prepared to make statements to the police now, but I know we should have said something a long time ago,” she said.

Burr-Dixon said they went to live on the same property as the big double-storey face-brick house surrounded by tall trees in Plantation Street because the rent of between R2?000 and R2?500 a month was very reasonable.

“He would never have looked for trouble with the wealthy. The poor, the crippled, the children were his punch bag,” she said.

If the tenants wanted to know why the children did not go to school, he boasted that they were being home-schooled.

But the man, who may not be named to protect the identity of the five children he allegedly assaulted repeatedly over the years, seems to be a man with two faces.

“He had good manners when he did business and he kept his promises,” said a Springs businessman, who chose to remain anonymous, this week.

But his good image was rudely exposed when an 11-year-old boy, bleeding from his wounds, hammered on the door of Hennu and Hanlie Venter’s house late on Monday night.

The Venters live right next door.

“The boy fell into the house, went down on his knees and folded his hands together. He begged us not to phone his father and say where he was,” they said.

The next morning, Hanlie Venter called the police.

When they ­entered the neighbouring house, they found four children inside who have been described as severely neglected.

“The house was filthy with rats running around everywhere. The children just sat there,” said the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Rudi Jansen.

However, the 11-year-old boy was missing. His father told the police the boy had “run away again”.

He was found on Friday with a relative in Warden in the Free State, where his father had allegedly tried to hide him.

The accused’s brother-in-law, a businessman in Warden, said the man had called him on Tuesday and asked whether the boy could come and stay with them.

“It was bitterly cold when my brother-in-law and his wife arrived here in the night with the child.”

He said his brother-in-law tried to account for the child’s bruised and swollen eyes by saying that he and his sister had been “boxing”.

Once his brother-in-law was gone, he realised how badly his nephew was hurt.

“The child was [paralytic] and would not speak. His face was swollen and he had two black eyes. He could scarcely open his eyes. The child’s eyes were bloodshot and his cheeks were bruised. His right ear had a deep cut. His body was so bruised, it was difficult to touch him.”

On Thursday, more than 24 hours after the child had arrived, he said they “were just going” to the doctor when the police arrived.

Police told Rapport earlier that the mother had given in to pressure and told them where the child was.

Although the brother-in-law admitted that the accused “has a problem with his temper”, he did not believe that the child was “deliberately injured”.

He said it was true that the children never went to school, “because they are all slow”.

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