en years after her six-month-old daughter was killed in a hit that shocked South Africa, Natasha Norton sleeps in the very room where the murder took place.
Norton shares the room with her second daughter, Keira (8), who was born in 2007 – shortly before Dina Rodrigues was jailed for hiring hitmen to kill Natasha’s first child, JordanLeigh. Keira has helped the broken-hearted family heal. “The pain doesn’t go away. It gets a bit easier, but not a whole lot,” Natasha (32) said this week from the family’s home in Rondebosch East, Cape Town.
“Keira has been the family’s healer. She’s a wonderful child, well-adjusted and smart.”
Natasha revealed that although the house has been extensively renovated to help the Nortons put the past behind them, she and Keira sleep in the room where Jordan-Leigh took her last breath.
She said Keira thinks of her late half-sister “Jordy” as a “star in the sky” – the first star that rises every evening.
Photographs that adorn the walls of the family’s home show a strong likeness between Jordan and Keira – whose father is Natasha’s former boyfriend Andrew Moolman.
“When we go to church, Keira makes a point of visiting Jordy’s ashes.”
The little girl also tagged along when the family visited Jordan’s grave down the road from their home on Monday – the 10-year anniversary of her murder.
But Keira was at school when the family attended the parole hearing of two of Jordan’s killers, Zanethemba Gwada and Bonginkosi Sigenu, on Wednesday – the Nortons have tried to shield her from the gruesome event that irrevocably changed their lives.
Natasha wept as Gwada and Sigenu (who was 16 at the time of the trial and couldn’t be named) took their seats at the Drakenstein Prison in Paarl at an oval table, just 2m away from her. Their application for parole was denied.
“It was so tough, actually hearing their voices,” she said. “Hearing them talk about holding Jordan, about the actual physical contact they had with my baby.”
The parole hearing forced the tight-knit family to relive the hell of Jordan’s death.
Natasha was joined at the hearing by her brother Dylan, their parents Vernon and Anastasia, and the family’s long-term housekeeper Thobeka Buso.
Dylan and Buso were tied up at the family home at the time of the murder.
In the highly publicised trial, it emerged that Rodrigues, who was then 24, flew into a jealous rage when she learnt that her boyfriend, Neil Wilson, had fathered Jordan in a previous relationship with Norton. She went to a taxi rank and hired hitmen, promising them R10 000.
Gwada, Sipho Mfazwe, Mongezi Bobotyane and Sigenu pretended to be couriers to gain access to the family’s home on June 15 2005, while Natasha was working at a nearby gym. In 2007, Gwada and Sigenu were jailed for 15 years each. Rodrigues, Mfazwe and Bobotyane received life sentences. Vernon said the family had attended the parole hearing because they felt a responsibility to take a public stance against parole. “Personally, I feel that Oscar’s [Pistorius] release on parole is absolutely disgusting. It makes a mockery of our judiciary. That was one of the reasons I felt so strongly about opposing parole for Jordan’s killers.
“As far as the parole board goes, a precedent has to be set. I mean, we’re not talking about a stolen cellphone or car radio here, it is a sacred human life.” Pistorius is due to be released into house arrest on August 21 after serving only 10 months in jail for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Vernon relayed how strangers still stare at them in the street – and often offer kind words or hugs. “Because it was such a horrific incident, it stayed in people’s minds. I think people really want to convey empathy, but often they don’t have the words,” he said.
Despite the joy that Keira has brought Natasha, who helps her father with his electronics manufacturing business, she is still in therapy.
Her health has faltered in the anxious year leading up to this week’s hearing, and she struggles to sleep.
“I never even got to see Jordan take her first steps,” she said.
Natasha prefers not to comment on Rodrigues, who confessed to the murder two years ago when she applied to the Supreme Court of Appeal for special leave to appeal her life sentence. Her appeal was denied.
“I would rather focus on the future,” she said.
SLOW TO HEAL past week
Baby Jordan-Leigh Norton’s mother, Natasha, and grandfather Vernon talk about Jordan's killers applying for parole this