Johannesburg - Seven hours before she was raped and strangled by her neighbour, an excited Tracey-Lee Martins sent her father an SMS.
“Hi daddio. I bought myself a car and I’m picking it up tomorrow morning.”
Andre Balutto was driving at the time he received the message, but immediately called his daughter.
In the conversation, which lasted about 45 minutes, Martins not only told her father about her new car but that she was also buying the house she was staying in with her son and grandmother in Klipspruit West.
It was the last time Balutto would speak to his daughter. The following morning at about 6.30, he received news that she was dead.
She had been raped and strangled in the house she was preparing to purchase.
Balutto collapsed on hearing the news.
On Tuesday, Kyle Fredericks, 21, was found guilty of murder, rape and robbery.
His accomplice, Shinawaaz Ahmento, 21, was found guilty of rape, robbery and assault for slapping and choking Martins’s grandmother. Both were Martins’s neighbours, and Fredericks stated in court that not only did he know her but that he grew up in front of her and used to go to her house.
Balutto, who testified in aggravation of sentence at the Johannesburg High Court, which is sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, was at times overwrought and could not speak when asked how his daughter’s death had affected him.
“My daughter didn’t deserve that. It was not human, it was not right. They (Fredericks and Ahmento) have no idea how they’ve scarred not only me, but also my grandson, her grandmother, their parents and the entire community,” he said.
Testifying in mitigating of sentence for his son, Ahmento’s mother Zuleikha told the court he was a “very gentle child who never gave me problems” and pleaded with the court to be lenient.
“I’m sorry about what happened to the Martins family and I plead that the court be lenient on my son. What he did was not right – that’s not how he was brought up.
“Although we have a lot of children (eight), my husband and I have control over them. I have spoken to Shinawaaz and he told me he wishes he could turn back the clock,” she said. She also mentioned that her son had a previous conviction for theft and that he was once charged with rape but found not guilty.
Fredericks also took the stand to plead for leniency. Instead of telling the court why he should be shown mercy, he denied he was ever part of the rape, robbery and murder of Martins.
“I want the court to take my DNA to prove that I never raped her. If the court gives me a sentence, it must be a lenient sentence,” he said.
During cross-examination, the prosecutor, advocate Vincent Maphiri, asked Fredericks whether he was still denying that he committed the crimes. “Yes,” he said.
Maphiri said neither accused had shown remorse, and said Fredericks should be given a life sentence.
Sentencing was expected on Thursday.