Justice finally prevails for dead mom, son in domestic violence case

2016-08-02 16:22
High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town – After Uretta Nicholas was kidnapped, raped, and beaten along with her toddler son two years ago, she rushed to the Kuils River police station for protection from her ex-boyfriend.

The distressed mom was turned away and told she was drunk.

By the time she finally managed to obtain a protection order, her two-year-old son Alex had been beaten to death.

She died on June 14 this year, shortly after testifying against Bennie Adams.

On Monday, the Western Cape High Court sentenced Adams to 25 years in jail for housebreaking with intent to kidnap, kidnapping, rape, common assault, and murder.

Advocate Liezel Herbst, part of the prosecution team, said Nicholas was "finally heard and believed".

"This time the justice system did not fail her."

Turned away

The high court said officers failed to help Nicholas in her desperate time of need.

"Had the police fulfilled their duties as a police service to the people they were actually meant to serve, and helped her when she first approached them, her son might still be alive today," acting Judge Ashraf Mohamed said in passing judgment in June.

On December 10, 2014, Adams broke into their house and forced them to go to his home, according to a summary of the substantial facts. There, he punched and slapped them.

Whenever the toddler tried to go to his mom or look at her, Adams assaulted him repeatedly, telling him he should take his hiding like a man. He then raped Nicholas while the boy was nearby.

She fled to the police station the next morning, leaving her son behind. The rationale was that it would raise Adams' suspicion if she left with the boy, and that he would follow them and force them back to his home.

She was turned away at the police station and eventually went to the nearby magistrate’s court. A crisis counsellor at the court noted she was barefoot, unkempt, very emotional, and deeply distressed, but not under the influence of alcohol.

Son killed

The counsellor finally helped her get a protection order, but police still refused to help.

She rushed back to Adams' house and soon found her son had been killed. He had severe blunt force trauma to the head, chest, face, mouth, eyes, abdomen, and perineum, said regional National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

"Although the State asked the court to impose a life sentence, it accepted the 25-year direct imprisonment handed down to the accused," he said.

According to Nicholas, both she and her son were diagnosed with HIV after she gave birth. She said she contracted the virus from him.

At the time of conviction, the court likened the conduct of Kuils River police to "an apartheid police 'force' steeped in ignorant, discriminatory and exclusionary practices that are inconsistent with the values and precepts of a constitutional democracy".

The court said necessary remedial measures should be considered in collaboration with NGOs and the community.

It asked that a copy of the judgment be sent to the Kuils River station commander, the provincial police commissioner, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the provincial police ombudsman, the Western Cape community safety MEC, and the national police minister for consideration.


Read more on:    cape town  |  domestic violence

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