Man accused of killing Tazné van Wyk, 8, forgets her name during testimony

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Tazne van Wyk
Tazne van Wyk
  • The man accused of murdering 8-year-old Tazné van Wyk could not remember her name when questioned about her in court on Tuesday.
  • He said he battled to remember names and places.
  • He also claimed that she appeared out of nowhere while he was asked for directions by a taxi driver, and he was obliged to get in the taxi with her. 

The man accused of murdering little Tazné van Wyk shocked the Western Cape High Court when he could not remember her name during testimony on Tuesday. 

His advocate Saleem Halday was attempting to establish how his client came to be seen at an Engen garage in Worcester with Tazné. 

Halday laid his foundation by asking for the name of the girl the accused was seen with, based on CCTV footage and witness testimony. 

The man leaned back and went into deep thought, eyes cast to the ceiling as though searching for information, and tried out different names. 

"Tas...Tazley...?" he asked. 

Tazné's parents and the Mitchells Plain Crisis Forum in the public gallery were aghast until, prompted by Halday, the accused eventually named the little girl, who was cruelly murdered and then left in a storm drain to decompose with one hand chopped off in February 2020. 

Testifying in his murder, rape, sexual assault and kidnapping trial, the accused, who may not be named to protect the identity of his relatives, has pleaded not guilty to the 20 serious charges he faces.

Many of the charges relate to the sexual assault of female relatives, including one of his daughters.

READ | 'I didn't know her': Man on trial for killing Tazné van Wyk says he had never even seen her before

Led by Halday, the suspect explained that he first met Tazné at the spaza shop that was just a few metres from her front door. 

He lived next door to the shop, and was about to leave the property when he saw her and they began chatting. He heard her ask for a sip of somebody's ginger beer. With his hands in black knitted gloves, he demonstrated from the dock how she tipped her head back to down the cold drink.  

The former construction worker and municipal security guard, who at the time had absconded from parole, said he went inside to fetch money to buy two loose cigarettes from the spaza shop. He then returned home and charged his phone because the battery was low.

He decided he was going to hitchhike to Worcester, so he picked up his bag of possessions and headed out. His landlord stopped him on the way out and told him he had left his phone behind, so he returned to fetch it. 

He planned to go to mosque first, get a lift to Tygerberg Hospital, and then walk from there to the N1 to hitch a ride to Worcester.

On Monday, he testified that he had spent time in Tazné's parents' yard drinking beer earlier that day. When asked, he said he had never set eyes on the murdered girl. 

But on Tuesday, he said that at around 16:00, he decided to go to Worcester, via the mosque. He crossed the main road to escape noisy dogs, and, out of the blue, Tazné appeared next to him on the main road.

READ | Accused allegedly beaten by inmates in police truck en route to court

"This is where I saw Tazné  on the main road," he testified in a voice that sometimes slurred, and a dialect that was sometimes so fast that the court had to stop him so the Afrikaans interpreter could finish translating.  

He said a Toyota Quantum taxi with pink on the side came around the corner and stopped next to him, asking for directions to Malawi Camp, an impoverished settlement next to the airport.

He described the occupants as people who spoke a language he did not understand, but one of the women managed to communicate what they needed.

He said they offered to pay him if he got in and showed them where Malawi Camp was, but he refused, saying he was not going in that direction. 

And then, according to the accused, suddenly Tazné piped up: "We will take you." 

"And I said, 'but I don't even know her [the woman asking], and Tazné said, 'but we know where, we know where'."

He said Tazné climbed through the open sliding door of the taxi and moved to the front passenger seat next to the driver. 

"Now they are speaking in their language," he continued. "I had to get in because she was already inside," he said. 

Earlier, he was asked about a sexual relationship he had with his adult daughter. He testified that she called him handsome and wanted them to be known as a married couple. He said his daughter only reported him to the police after his arrest. 

The accused was arrested in Cradock when his ex-wife drew him out of hiding.

He also explained how he came to be charged for absconding from parole. 

He said he got a job offer in Johannesburg and had to start immediately. He went to the house of a Department of Correctional Services senior, who he only remembers as "Oubaas" and told him of his plans.

"[Oubaas] laughed in my face," he told the court, adding that he did not go to his usual parole officer because it was a Saturday and the parole office was closed.

He continued, by explaining that he did not apply in writing for permission to travel as is the usual requirement, because his scribe was not available to do his writing for him. 

On Monday the court heard that he left school in Grade 8.

The accused is expected to testify again on Wednesday. 

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