Pretoria - As he cut off her nipples, he looked her in the eye and told her: “I love you, ounooi [old girl].”
This was some of the dramatic evidence given in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday by Ina Bonnette, the woman who was tortured, humiliated and raped in a vicious attack allegedly orchestrated by her estranged husband, as she faced him for the first time since her ordeal.
Bonnette became emotional as she gave graphic details of how she was tortured by Kotze while his three co-accused watched.
Her friends, who were allowed in court along with a handful of journalists, sniffed and wiped their eyes.
Bonnette told Judge Bert Bam that Kotze pushed nails into her breast and pinched her with pliers, repeatedly telling her how much he loved her. He sawed off her right nipple and showed it to her.
“He asked whether I wanted it,” said Bonnette.
It then became too much for her and she broke down, asking for a break.
Bonnette, who gave permission for her identity to be made known soon after the January 3 attack, is testifying against Kotze, the so-called Modimolle Monster.
The trial began in the Pretoria High Court on Monday. Kotze and three co-accused, Andries Sithole, 42, Pieta Mohlane, 23, and Frans Mphaka, 29, all of Makapanstad, are alleged to have assaulted and raped Bonnette and murdered her 19-year-old son, Conrad.
The incident reportedly took place in Kotze’s home in Modimolle.
The four are facing one count of murder, one of attempted murder, four of rape and kidnapping as well as three alternative charges, which include assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm and sexual assault.
The first witness to take the stand was Marthinus Cloete, who described how he had walked into a bedroom in Kotze’s house and found his best friend, Conrad Bonnette, lying on the floor with blood on him. In the bedroom next door he found “Auntie Ina”, with blood on her arms, untying herself with the help of a friend.
On Monday, after failing in his bid to have the trial postponed as he attempted to prove that he was not accountable for his actions at the time of the incident, Kotze indicated that he was not in a position to plead to the charges.
His advocate, Bernard Bandjies, told the court that he was not happy with the finding of three psychologists that Kotze was of sound mind and that he was found not to suffer from any psychological condition.
Bandjies said the defence had employed its own psychologists, who interviewed Kotze under dire circumstances in jail, but they are yet to make their evaluation.
He said a host of medical tests, including those for Kotze’s heart and liver functions and for sexually transmitted diseases, should be done, as such conditions could have contributed to Kotze’s state of mind in January, when the incidents took place, and could still be affecting his state of mind.
Bandjies said without these tests, Kotze was unable to plead to the charges as it could not be established whether he could be held accountable for his actions.
Judge Bam refused the postponement and noted a plea of not guilty on behalf of Kotze. He said the issue of accountability could be raised later.
The other three accused also pleaded not guilty and claimed that Kotze forced them to take part in the crimes.
Cloete, meanwhile, testified that on January 3 he and Conrad were at the gym when his friend received a call from Kotze, who asked Conrad to come to his home to discuss something with him.
Cloete said Conrad thought it odd, as Kotze phoned from his mother’s phone, and by that time they had been separated.
He went with his friend to Kotze’s house, where a “friendly” Kotze greeted them at the door.
Bonnette’s car was parked outside the gate.
“He asked us to help him pack and he sent me to the garage to fetch a crate. Conrad followed his stepfather into the house.”
Cloete said he searched for about 10 minutes but could not find a crate. As he was about to return to the house he heard a car leave, and saw Kotze’s car was no longer parked outside.
He called for his friend as he stood at the door to the house, but there was no answer. He sent him an SMS and sat waiting in the dining room.
Although he thought it odd that there was no one there, he assumed they had all left and would soon return.
A family friend, Vivienne van der Merwe, arrived and asked where everyone was. He said he did not know and she went outside to use her phone.
Cloete walked down the passage and saw movement through one of the bedroom doors. He called Van der Merwe and they both walked down the passage – he went to one room and she to another.
“I saw [Conrad] lying on his side in the room. I also saw blood. I went to the room, where I noticed movement and saw Van der Merwe busy untying Auntie Ina. She also untied herself from the ropes, which had tied her to the window.
“I helped her [Bonnette] to untie [the ropes] and told her Conrad was next door and she rushed there. She came out and said: ‘He killed my son. Get me out of here.’”
The three went to the police station. On the way, Bonnette tried to phone her parents, Cloete said.
“She said Kotze had threatened to go and shoot them.”
Accusations of torture have been levelled against all the accused. It is claimed that Kotze meticulously planned to humiliate his estranged wife by kidnapping and torturing her.
He allegedly had her raped by the other three, who hid their identities by pulling pantyhose over their heads, before he killed her son.
The reports of torture also include silicone being pressed out of Bonnette’s breasts and her private parts being cut.