'House of horrors' dad bursts into tears after fireworks testimony

2016-06-09 13:44
The father of the Springs house of horrors in court. (Wim Pretorius????, News24)

The father of the Springs house of horrors in court. (Wim Pretorius????, News24)

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Pretoria - The father accused of abusing his five children in the so-called "house of horrors" in Springs burst into tears in court on Thursday as an explosives expert testified about the illegal fireworks he found.

A suitcase containing fireworks with nails tied to them was found in the home, police explosives expert Colonel Johan Alberts testified in the High Court in Pretoria.

Alberts said he found six firecrackers with 6cm-long nails attached with masking tape, one without nails, and 10 boxes of fireworks.

The man and his wife are on trial on charges of attempted murder of their 13-year-old son, attempted obstruction of justice, child abuse, child neglect, breaking the Schools Act, showing pornographic material to their oldest daughter when she was still under 18, and using and distributing crystal methamphetamine.

The father is also charged with raping and abusing his oldest daughter.

While the possession of fireworks was not illegal, setting them off was subject to municipal laws and by-laws, Alberts said. They may only be used in the form they had been manufactured, and altering them was illegal.

He testified that when set off, the nails attached to the fireworks would act as shrapnel.

"Metal breaks into pieces. The pieces are meant to hurt you. It won't have the same effect as military grenades, but will still shoot in different directions.

"It is illegal to possess these types of fireworks. They have no other function, but to cause harm," Alberts told the court.

Photo evidence of fireworks wrapped in nails with masking tape found in the house. (Wim Pretorius, News24)

Dangerous

Judge Eben Jordaan asked Alberts if the man on the street would know that they could not add nails to fireworks.

Alberts said he was unsure, but said people knew fireworks could be dangerous.

At this moment the father burst into tears and wiped his eyes with his arm repeatedly.

Police said a minibus taxi collided with the police van transporting the man and other accused back to prison on Tuesday. The father got whiplash and a bruised eye.

The case was postponed to 31 October.

Last month, the father pleaded not guilty to 21 charges. He pleaded guilty to one charge of stopping police from doing their work when they searched for one of his children in May 2014. The mother pleaded not guilty to 20 charges.

The man was arrested in May 2014 after his son, then 11, fled the house and ran to a neighbour for help.

They may not be named to protect the identities of their children, some of whom are minors.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime  |  child abuse

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