House of horrors mom ‘not a flight risk’
BY BRENDAN ROANE, TLOTLO THAPELO AND PUMLA KALIPA
Johannesburg - The Springs mother accused of abusing her children for years is not a flight risk because she is “fragile” and loves her family too much to become a fugitive.
This was argued by her lawyer, Isabella van Eck, as the woman’s bail hearing entered its second day in the Springs Regional Court on Wednesday.
Van Eck also argued that the public outcry on the issue should not be a factor in determining bail because people had already prejudged the woman.
The mother-of-five is expected to hear on Friday whether she will be released on bail or if, like her husband, she will await trial behind bars.
They are both alleged to have kept their five children captive, repeatedly beating them and forcing them to live in filthy conditions.
The wife is facing charges of child abuse, attempted murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice.
Her husband, who has been dubbed the Springs Monster, faces the same charges, with an additional one of raping his wife.
In her bail application, however, the woman denied he had raped her.
Van Eck said the woman was not a flight risk because she did not have a passport and “hardly ever goes out of Springs”.
“She doesn’t have the strength of character to become a fugitive,” said Van Eck.
She described her client as a “very fragile person” who was easily intimidated, completely dependent on her family and friends, and loved her husband “far too much” to evade trial.
However, State prosecutor Lyndon Daries said the woman should be denied bail because her children could end up testifying against her and she could therefore attempt to tamper with a State witness.
All the children were moved to a place of safety after their father was arrested.
Van Eck said the State could impose bail conditions which would allow the mother to visit her children only in the presence of a social worker, who could monitor their conversations.
“She is so scared that she will comply with any bail conditions,” Van Eck said.
She urged magistrate Bennita Oswell to avoid placing too much importance on the public outcry surrounding the case when considering bail.
“It seems as if every single person has made up their mind already,” said Van Eck.
She then read out to the court comments made under a news article on Facebook, which she described as “nasty”.
“I’m so glad there’s no jury system in this country. (The public) are manipulated and force-fed by whatever the media writes,” said Van Eck.