Johannesburg - Adriaan Netto, the 37-year-old father accused of raping and murdering his 10-month-old baby, is a wanted man after failing to show up at court on Thursday morning for judgment.
Instead of arriving at court to hear whether or not he has been found guilty of killing his tiny daughter, Netto fled from his home early Thursday morning.
Netto – who can now be identified because he is a fugitive – and his 34- year-old lover, who cannot be named to protect the identities of their other children, are alleged to have abused the baby over a period of time.
They were charged with murder, rape, assault, child abuse and sexual assault.
After their arrest the couple were released on bail of R3 000 each, and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During the trial both parents claimed they did not know what had caused the baby’s severe injuries that led to her death. She had also been malnourished and underweight.
Two days ago, on the last day of the trial, Judge Majake Mabesele said this was a difficult case and he would need time to ponder the matter and postponed the case to Thursday for judgment.
The matter was supposed to have started at 9.30am at the Johannesburg High Court sitting at Protea Magistrate’s Court, but neither of the accused were present. Just before 10am the mother arrived alone.
Netto’s lawyer, advocate Anneline Roestorf, told the judge that she had called her client’s phone several times but had been unable to reach him.
Samantha’s mother said Netto had woken on Thursday morning, taken his clothes and left their home.
After pondering this sudden turn of events, the judge told the investigator, Lieutenant Colonel Gert Kruger: “I want that man here.”
He said Netto’s bail was to be immediately forfeited.
Kruger had opposed bail for the accused during their application. Speaking outside court, Samantha’s mother said Netto had gone out on Wednesday night and arrived home drunk.
“He said he would sleep under a tree rather than miss his children’s developments like crawling and walking. He packed his clothes and said he was leaving.”
She said he left their home at about 7am. The couple have two other children – Samantha’s twin and another baby born in March.
The children are in the care of family members.
The woman said she had run after Netto, who had also taken the transport money they were supposed to use in coming to court.
“He said: ‘If you want to go jail you can go on your own.’ I did not know what to do because I did not have transport money.
“I had to beg taxi drivers to drop me off at Leratong Hospital. I went to my uncle’s house and we came together to court,” she said.
A warrant of arrest has been issued for Netto.