Judge 'shattered to the core' by Jasmin's brutal murder

2015-11-13 14:38
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

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Pretoria - Judge Mahomed Ismail said on Friday he was "shattered to the core" by the sheer brutality of Brakpan builder Sarel du Toit's rape and murder of his 4-year-old niece, Jasmin Pretorius.

The Pretoria High Court judge sentenced Du Toit to two terms of life imprisonment for the crimes. Du Toit did not look up once and did not even stand up when he was sentenced.

Although he never said a word in court, Du Toit admitted in his plea explanation that he had taken Jasmin - who was visiting her father for the weekend - to his room where he first raped and then strangled her to stop her from crying out.

Ismail said Du Toit's admissions had a chilling effect on him. "The accused's actions were horrendous and lacked any human compassion.

"Your actions nipped the flame of life of a defenceless child... You violated her dignity for your own self-gratification.

"These offences in a pre-constitutional era were usually punishable by the death sentence... The Constitutional Court did away with such punishment because it regards life as sacrosanct," he said.

Children not aware of deviant behaviour

Ismail said young children were more often than not raped by people they knew and trusted because they were their elders and were not even aware of such deviant behaviour.

In this case, Du Toit had taken advantage and betrayed the trust of an innocent child who, according to her mother, loved and trusted him. The judge said what Du Toit did was not a sexual interaction, but rather an act of brutality and violence.

He took into account that Du Toit pleaded guilty and had below average intelligence, but stressed the aggravating factors, including that he killed an innocent child who posed no threat to him and that a doctor testified that the child had suffered severe pain and compared her injuries to those suffered by a mother giving birth to a very big baby.

Photos of the severe injuries to the child's face would leave an indelible impression even on the toughest solider on the battlefield, he said.

Ismail described the child's rape as falling in the worst category, adding that Du Toit had betrayed the trust and dignity of the child with a reckless disregard to her life.

Ripple effect on family

He said Du Toit's crimes had a ripple effect on his victim's family who were devastated and suffered ongoing trauma and pain.

The judge said it was also severely aggravating that Du Toit had hidden the child's body under his bed and pretended that nothing had happened while her parents anxiously searched for her.

"You only confessed several hours later to what you did. By then you knew it was only a matter of time before her lifeless body would be found.

"I have to pose the question if your plea of guilty is indeed a reflection of remorse or whether it amounted to a realisation that the game was up," he said.

Jasmin's mother, Sasha Bam, said she was relieved that her child's killer had been sentenced and was satisfied that justice had been served.

"I hope it shows... other people in similar circumstances that there is justice," she said. Bam said she was still working on forgiving Du Toit and would like to meet with him, maybe in a few years' time, just to ask him why he did it.

Bam's father, Pastor Colin Bam, said he had already forgiven Du Toit, who told him he was sorry when they met in the cells at court. He said Du Toit had given him permission to visit him in jail and he now wanted to fulfil a fatherly role in Du Toit's life as Du Toit never had a father figure.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime  |  child abuse

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