Mur­der ac­cused tells how he killed tod­dler

Strong signs of ne­glect; friend who saw at­tack too scared to stop it

Cape Argus - - NEWS - Zo­didi Dano

MUR­DER ac­cused Pi­eter van Ton­der ex­plained to the Western Cape High Court ex­actly what he did to Ashee­qah Scott that led to the 17-month-old’s death. In his guilty plea, Van Ton­der de­tailed that he and Shakira Scott, Ashee­qah’s mother, had been in a re­la­tion­ship for five months when she asked him to look af­ter Ashee­qah while she did her wash­ing at her home, down the road from his home.

Upset over Scott’s de­lay in pick­ing up the child and un­der the in­flu­ence of man­drax and dagga, Van Ton­der ad­mits to hit­ting the child with an open hand in the face, and she fell flat on the bed.

“I picked her up and again as­saulted her on her head and body. I did this about three times and af­ter the last as­sault I could see that she was not mov­ing. As I was climb­ing into my ve­hi­cle, I threw the de­ceased’s body to the back seat. As we drove off, I picked her up, placed her limp body over the head rest of the front seat. I would speed up and then break hard, to cause her to fall on the rear seat and floor. I did so re­peat­edly.” Ashee­qah did not make a sound. The ac­cused said he pre­pared a white pipe, a bro­ken glass bot­tle neck con­tain­ing dagga and crushed man­drax, heated it and burnt the child’s lips.

Foren­sic pathol­o­gist Lara Ped­dle told the court Ashee­qah sus­tained mul­ti­ple blows to the head. “There were at least four sep­a­rate blows with sig­nif­i­cant force. The cause of death was blunt head trauma.”

Ped­dle told the court Ashee­qah had many bruises and cig­a­rette burn marks on her foot and wrist. She had burn wound to her left wrist which she de­duced could have been from a hot ob­ject be­ing pressed against the skin. Some wounds were in­flicted at least 12 hours be­fore her death.

“Her or­gans were in a state. Her pan­creas was nearly gone and her liver was that of an adult who drinks heav­ily. I had never seen such ne­glect, but the ne­glect did not cause her death, her in­juries did.”

Ri­cardo Marco, Van Ton­der’s friend who wit­nessed the as­sault, said he strug­gled to sleep since that fate­ful day, Septem­ber 3, 2016. He said he was too fear­ful to stop the ac­cused, but told the court two life terms would be suf­fi­cient pun­ish­ment for his ex-friend.

Act­ing Judge Mush­tak Parker ques­tioned Marco. “You sit there like a cow­ard watch­ing the ac­cused bru­tally as­sault­ing this baby. I have seen and heard many sto­ries in my life­time, but never such a bru­tal case. I don’t know if I will be able to sleep at night af­ter hear­ing this,” he said.

The mat­ter re­sumes on Novem­ber 6 for fi­nal ar­gu­ments.

PICTURE: TRACEY ADAMS/ANA

MUL­TI­PLE IN­JURIES: Foren­sic pathol­o­gist Lara Ped­dle tes­ti­fied in court.

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