Murder accused tells how he killed toddler
Strong signs of neglect; friend who saw attack too scared to stop it
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.
MULTIPLE INJURIES: Forensic pathologist Lara Peddle testified in court.