Five men appeared in the Northern Cape High Court on Monday on charges of rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl in Douglas.
The mother of the deceased child clutched a photograph of her daughter as she listened to how her child was brutally gang-raped and murdered before her naked body, with only a black bag tied around her neck, was found in a neighbour’s yard.
Deon Hilton van Nel, Deon Alwyn, Mervin Jacobus, Adri Julius and a fifth accused who cannot be named as he is a minor, each face two counts of rape and one of murder after Velerie Julius was found dead in Douglas on December 1, 2010.
The minor accused was only 11 years old when the incident allegedly happened, while Alwyn was 16 years of age at the time.
All the five accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Velerie was last seen at around 2pm on December 1 when she left the house where she stayed with her grandmother, to exchange some five cent coins at a local shop. She never returned.
Her body was later discovered with several injuries and partly covered in a black plastic bag in a yard a few streets from where she lived. The bottom part of her body was completely naked.
The State alleges that the five accused raped Julius both vaginally and anally, and then killed her.
According to the charge sheet, the post-mortem report indicated that she sustained various stab wounds, as well as extensive genital injuries. The cause of death was stab wounds to her neck.
Although the case is being held in-camera, as one of the accused is a minor, his legal representative, Advocate Theo Fourie, stated that he had no objection to the media being allowed in the courtroom.
The deceased’s mother, Ellis Julius, who sat clutching a framed photograph of her daughter, also stayed behind in the courtroom because she is also a family member of one of the accused.
Jacobus Hoogstander, who found Velerie’s body in his yard on December 1, 2010, was the first to be called to the witness stand. He recalled details of the night when he, after hearing his dog bark, went to his window and saw Deon Alwyn and Adri Julius standing outside his fence. He added that he knew both the accused “very well” and that they “grew up in front of him.”
Hoogstander said he then called police after seeing a pair of feet of someone lying where his dog was barking, inside the premises.
After not getting through to the police, he called Johannes Nel, a neighbour from a few houses down, who came to his house.
Nel apparently saw four men fleeing the scene as he approached the house, but could not identify the other two men.
Hoogstander again called the police and he, with Nel, waited until they arrived.
“I could see the feet were that of a human, but it was only when we got closer to the body with police when I realised it was a child. She was naked, except for a black plastic bag tied around her neck. The bag was tied very tight and the police proceeded to cut it off. Then I saw the stab wound to her neck,” Hoogstander testified.
While listening to the testimony, the victim’s mother started sobbing while rocking back and forth.
The State had no further questions for Hoogstander after he concluded his evidence by saying that although he had also known the other three accused, he could not remember their names.
The defence team is expected to cross-examine Hoogstander when the trial continues on Tuesday.
Diamond Fields Advertiser