Daughter of 'Springs monster' on horrific torture: We thought it was normal

The ‘Springs monster’ is seen in the gallery during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)
The ‘Springs monster’ is seen in the gallery during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

The daughter of the so-called Springs monster says the horrific abuse she and her siblings suffered at his hands was considered "normal". 

"Our circumstances were normal to us. Why would I run away?"

Known as Landi, the 21-year-old woman spoke to Martin Bester on Jacaranda FM on Tuesday following the release of her book, Huis van gruwels: My 16 jaar in die Springs-hel (House of horrors: My 16 years in the Springs hell), narrated to Susan Cilliers. 

Landi's father was sentenced to an effective 35 years in prison in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in August last year.

Judge Eben Jordaan found him guilty of raping Landi, who was 16 at the time, the attempted murder of his then 11-year-old son, defeating the ends of justice, obstruction of justice, five counts of child abuse and five counts of child neglect.

The man was arrested on May 23, 2014, after the 11-year-old boy ran to a neighbour for help after he was severely beaten. At his house in Springs on the East Rand, police discovered that the man and his wife had been severely abusing their children.

The woman received a suspended sentence of five years on certain conditions, such as undergoing psychological counselling. The judge took into account that the woman was, like the children, a victim and had suffered serious abuse at the hands of her husband. 

Landi told Bester her father had a vile temper and would torture her and the other children in various ways, such as waterboarding or tasering them. 

Tasered in the bath

"He used the taser on us for about five years. It was a normal form of punishment. Sometimes we would be in the bath and he'd taser us in the water. Sometimes we'd pass out."

Her parents also used drugs such as CAT and forced her to use it as well. 

Her brother, however, was the main victim of the man's wrath. The boy was regularly beaten and hung by his arms or feet from the rafters, burnt with a blowtorch, hit with PVC pipes, pepper-sprayed or severely beaten up. In fact, Landi says, when the boy was returned home after alerting the neighbours he was beaten so badly that both his eyes were swollen shut. 

"I had to feed him because he couldn't see...it was very difficult for me."

Landi said she was the maternal figure as her mother was mostly emotionally absent, to the extent that one of her younger sisters called her own mother "tannie" (aunty). 

Taking turns

Landi said the children would often distract their father when he was assaulting one of them in an attempt to "relieve" their sibling and take turns getting beaten. 

"But that didn't always work. We couldn't really help one another because one of us had to protect the younger children. So our dad would hit one of us and the other would then look after our sisters."

Landi painted her father as a control freak who kept very strict tabs on them. He had 32 cameras installed at the now-infamous house and a security guard posted at the front gate. 

"But I thought that was what our lives were meant to be like. We watched TV and [people's lives] in movies were different, but I reckoned that was just on TV."

Landi told Bester she and her siblings thought they deserved the severe punishment by their father. "Most of the time we thought we had done something to anger him. It was normal: we misbehaved, so we had to be punished." 

Asked what she thought of the term "Springs monster", Landi said she was at first angry that her father was being called a monster.

'How can they call him a monster?'

"It was very difficult in the beginning. How could they [the media] call him a monster? I still don't see him as a monster. I have forgiven him. What he did was wrong, but the past can't be changed. It took me a long time, but last year, I finally forgave him."

The hardest for Landi was the sexual abuse she had to endure. "That will have an influence on the rest of my life and my future marriage. That was the worst for me. It made me feel weak and inferior."

She said she wanted to visit her father in prison and give him a copy of her book. "I am almost ready to do that..." 

But she hasn't forgiven her mother, Landi said. "She never stood up for us. And now she has chosen another man over us."

After the children were rescued in 2014, Landi was initially very angry at her brother for running off to the neighbours.

"I really blamed him for disrupting our lives. It took me two years to realise that, had it not been for him, we would not be where we are today. I don't even want to imagine what would have happened to us. I would probably be pregnant or one of us would be dead... I am very grateful to him.

"We have regular contact and he is doing very well."

She described the day of the police raid as chaotic. 

Things were a mess

"The guard at the gate radioed that there were people who wanted to come in. So my mother went out and came back and said it was the police. My dad then ran out the back door with my brother...things were a mess."

Her father jumped into the pool with the boy in an attempt to wash off the blood, before hiding him in the ceiling, where he was found by police. 

"My sisters and I stayed in an orphanage for a few days and I thought we would eventually go back. My aunt fetched us and told me our dad was in jail. It was overwhelming - I had no idea what was going to happen. I only got to see my brother a week later. I thought he was dead." 

Looking to the future, Landi said she wanted to travel the world and one day have lots of children. "Children of my own but also adopted children. I really want to encourage people to adopt - there are so many kids in orphanages. Because of my experience with my new parents, I want to give that to someone one day. 

"I could not have asked for more. My new parents are amazing. I love them so much. They are the parents I always should have had..." 

- Compiled by Riaan Grobler

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