Witness is afraid of Springs 'house of horrors' accused

2016-10-31 16:48
Photo evidence of fireworks wrapped in nails with masking tape found in the house. (Wim Pretorius, News24)

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

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Pretoria – A witness in the Springs "house of horrors" case testified on Monday that she was afraid of the man accused of the decade-long abuse of his five children.

The man abused his wife and dragged her by her hair and punched his son, she told the High Court in Pretoria.

One of his daughters had black eyes on three or four occasions, she said. 

Judge Eben Jordaan asked her why she had not mentioned this to the court before.

"You need to tell the truth. You won't get into trouble. You make my work so much harder if you don't tell the truth," he said.

The witness said she was scared of the man. She may not be named.

She was testifying in the trial of the couple accused of abusing and neglecting their five children in their home in Springs, on the East Rand. She lived in a room at the back of the house.

The man faces 22 charges and his estranged wife 20, including rape, child abuse, possession of and dealing in drugs. They may not be named to protect the identities of their children, some of whom are minors.

The alleged abuse was uncovered in May 2014, after the boy ran to neighbours for help and police and social workers were called.

The woman looked extremely nervous and often spoke very softly. She was repeatedly asked to speak up.

'The boy looked shocked'

She said she was standing outside her room with a cup of coffee when she saw the man bringing his son to the back of the house. The boy had a blue towel over his head and face.

"When he took the towel off, both of his eyes were blue and his face was swollen," the woman told the court.

"The boy said that he and his friends were boxing and I told him that he was lying. The boy looked shocked."

She said the boy told her mother what had happened. She said she didn’t hear what he said.

Shortly after this, police and social workers arrived and began questioning the two women about the whereabouts of the man and his son. The father and the boy were both hiding under a pile of laundry on the woman's bed. The woman's mother told the police she did not know where they were.

The officers and the social workers left and the man emerged from under the pile. However, before he left, he told the woman's mother they needed to hide the boy in the roof, the witness said.

Put in ceiling

According to the woman, her mother asked the boy if he was thirsty. He said he was "just hurt".

She said her mother gave the boy a glass of water through a hole in the ceiling.

The defence attorney, who asked not to be named, asked the witness why getting answers out of her was a struggle.

"We can't hear a thing that you say," the attorney said.

The woman got emotional and sobbed. After a brief adjournment Louiza van der Walt, for the children's mother, asked her why she kept quiet when she had a chance to tell police where the boy was.

Van der Walt then asked if she had witnessed any form of abuse at the Springs house.

After the defence completed cross-examination, the woman was allowed to step down.

The investigating officer was called as the next witness.

Throughout the proceedings the accused - both dressed in black - sat a few metres away from each another, barely making eye contact. The man looked calm. Before proceedings began, he sat in the dock reading what appeared to be a Bible.

His wife seemed agitated and kept looking over her shoulder.


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