Indefinite prison sentence for 'psychopathic' baby killer

Pieter van Tonder at the Western Cape High Court. (File photo: Tammy Petersen, News24)
Pieter van Tonder at the Western Cape High Court. (File photo: Tammy Petersen, News24)

A Cape Town man, who "brutally and savagely" killed his girlfriend's 16-month-old baby, has been sentenced to at least 25 years behind bars in the Western Cape High Court.

Judge Mushtak Parker on Friday said convicted murderer Pieter Van Tonder was a danger to others, and that the public needed to be protected against him.

"The extreme brutality is almost unspeakable," Parker said.

The judge added that Van Tonder must be imprisoned for an indefinite period and return to court in 25 years - May 4, 2043 - to allow the court to reconsider his sentence and determine if he had been rehabilitated.

Van Tonder was convicted last year of murdering his ex-girlfriend's daughter, Asheeqah Scott.

READ: Man convicted of killing girlfriend's toddler to be sentenced

The toddler was thrown around, burnt and beaten until she died, after Van Tonder lost his patience with his then-girlfriend, who was supposedly taking too long to fetch her child.

He said he had also been angered by a recent break-in at his house, and that his parents had asked him to run errands for them.

Van Tonder said he had been high at the time of the killing, after he smoked a "white pipe" of mandrax and dagga in Delft on September 3, 2016.

In his guilty plea, he explained that he was supposed to be taking care of the toddler while her mother did the laundry, and later while she ran an errand.

Van Tonder claimed he was annoyed because Asheeqah's mother, Shakera Scott, who was supposed to collect her daughter, was running late and had been drinking.

He slapped the child, put a hot "white pipe" on her lips, drove around with her in the car and deliberately braked so that she would fall. A witness also testified that he had draped the little girl's limp body over the car's steering wheel.

ALSO READ: Baby killer pleads guilty to tossing, burning, beating child to death

When the child's mother came to collect her, she had been placed on his bed. He claimed she had fallen from it.

Asheeqah was found to have died as a result of injuries to her head. However, an autopsy also revealed 26 injuries to her face, body, thigh and lips.

She also showed clear signs of previous assault, including fractured ribs in the process of healing.

Van Tonder elected not to testify during proceedings.

Parker said Van Tonder never verbalised or displayed any signs of remorse, despite pleading guilty.

He also denied causing some of the numerous injuries to the little girl's body.

Parker further pointed out that a psychiatric evaluation had indicated that he was psychopathic, which was "incurable".

Van Tonder had not offered the court any reason for the attack on the child and was deliberately evasive, Parker said.

Shakera Scott said she thought of her daughter often and imagined her going to creche or running in the street. She was satisfied with the sentence, she added.

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