Father of slain 10-year-old girl collapses in court

2016-12-05 13:46
Jerome Amerika, 23, who was found guilty of raping and killing 10-year-old Shamonique Claasen in February. (Jenna Etheridge/News24)

Jerome Amerika, 23, who was found guilty of raping and killing 10-year-old Shamonique Claasen in February. (Jenna Etheridge/News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town – "She was my flower. You plucked her." These were the words Shawn Lewis uttered to his 10-year-old daughter’s killer on Monday before he collapsed in the witness stand.

Lewis, wearing a faded shirt bearing Shamonique Claasen’s picture, cried and struggled to breathe. His thin arms slipped from the wooden stand and he had to be ushered out of courtroom two of the Western Cape High Court.

He was testifying in aggravation of sentencing for Jerome Amerika, 23.

Amerika stared ahead with a slight smirk.

"Sien jy wat jy gedoen het? [See what you have done?]," someone in the packed public gallery shouted down at Amerika. They later shouted: "Hulle wag vir jou daar binne. Jou ding gaan pyn. [They are waiting for you inside prison. Your thing is going to be sore.]"

On Thursday, Amerika was found guilty of raping and killing Shamonique. On Monday, the court was hearing testimony in aggravation and mitigation of sentence.

'I will take care of her until I die'

Shamonique went missing in Paarl on February 27, a day before her 11th birthday. Her body was later found rolled in a blanket and tied up with wire under Amerika’s bed. She had a black bag over her head and a stab wound to the chest.

Before breaking down, Lewis described his only biological child as loving and playful.

"I want to ask the court one question. Jerome, why did you do it? You are not worthy of being in this life. You have made my heart very sore," he said in Afrikaans.

Amerika had dated Claasen’s older sister. She had obtained an interdict against him at one point, but the two later made up and lived together with their three-year-old child.

A court had also found him guilty of dragging Claasen's sister into the bushes, hitting her with a stick and raping her twice in April last year.

Lewis confirmed to the court that he was taking care of Amerika’s child.

"I will take care of her until I die," he told the court. "I am taking her as my Shamonique Claasen in my heart."

The girl’s Grade 5 teacher at Dal Weide Primary School, Allison Naidoo, described her as a "beautiful sunshine child with a lovely smile".

While she was taller than her peers, Naidoo said Shamonique had stood out above the rest because of her personality, work ethic and neatness, despite her socio-economic circumstances.

'Her sun set while it was still day time'

To deal with the trauma of her death, Naidoo had asked her class to write letters and messages to Shamonique.

"Every day, we put fresh flowers on her chair and we honoured her until she was buried," she said, struggling to hold the tears back.

"Her sun set while it was still day time."

Defence lawyer Daniel Theunissen did not call any witnesses. On the charges relating to Claasen's sister, he questioned why she had not laid a charge against Amerika and had got back together with him.

At one point, he said Amerika did not have a good upbringing.

Prosecutor Maria Marshall hinted that it could be a case of battered woman syndrome, especially because there was a child involved.

Judge Robert Henney postponed the matter until Wednesday. Further argument and witnesses relating to the dynamics of abusive relationships were expected.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime  |  rape

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.

/News
 

Play with your pet when you're not at home

Many pets are alone at home during the week while their owners are at work. So what do these animals get up to while they’re home alone?

 
 

Paws

How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.