Cape Town - A tale of sexual abuse, drugs and parental neglect emerged on Friday as Phoenix Racing Cloud Theron admitted to her involvement in the murder of her mother Rosemary, and was sentenced to 20 years in jail.
The shocking revelations came in the Western Cape High Court as the 19-year-old entered a plea bargain, saying that she had helped her boyfriend, Kyle Maspero, murder her mother.
Theron pleaded guilty to charges of murder and attempting to defeat the course of justice. She was sentenced to 20 years in jail, five of which were suspended on condition she was not convicted of another violent crime.
Theron said she was willing to testify against her co-accused Maspero if asked to do so.
Maspero, 18, and Godfrey Scheepers, 20, who allegedly helped move Rosemary’s body, will be tried separately. Their pretrial conference will be held on May 23.
During Theron’s sentencing on Friday, Judge Robert Henney said: “This is a very serious offence – the planned and premeditated murder of her mother. The sentence agreed upon is, in my view, just. This case is where she killed someone near and dear to her, her mother, and it will haunt her for the rest of her life.”
Theron tried in vain to hold back her tears as her advocate, Francois van Zyl, read out the details of her plea agreement. In it, she confessed to helping Maspero murder her mother.
On March 7, the couple allegedly came up with the plan to murder Rosemary, a performance artist, following an argument.
Theron pretended to apologise for the fight and embraced her mother, while Maspero allegedly sneaked up behind, strangling her mother with a rope.
Maspero is alleged to have buried the body near their Clovelly home and later, with the help of Scheepers, moved the body and buried it in the sand dunes at Strandfontein.
Theron said she knew they had moved the body, but did not know the new location.
The 19-year-old said she blamed herself for allowing Maspero to influence her into taking part in the killing. But she had also feared her little sister would have to endure the same nightmarish upbringing she had.
The plea bargain, documenting Theron’s history, revealed that she was sexually abused by a friend of her father at age 6, then again, a few years later, by her grandmother’s boyfriend.
The Theron family spent years moving from place to place, living in abandoned buildings, a garage and an old bus.
Theron said she was neglected by her mother “virtually since birth”. Her parents were hippies living in a caravan in Noordhoek when Theron was born. After her parents broke up, Theron, then aged 3, lived with her mother.
At the age of 5, she was left in the care of her father while her mother travelled to South America.
Rosemary returned pregnant, and took her daughter to live on a hippie farm in Knysna.
Theron said she learnt to steal from a communal kitchen where the family lived, and ran around with friends going from house to house eating their food because there wasn’t much to eat at home.
Rosemary gave birth to her younger brother, then her little sister in 2005. Her brother later left South Africa to live with his father in South America.
Rosemary married and her daughter was constantly exposed to the unstable and physically abusive relationship between Rosemary and her husband.
Attempts by Theron’s father to get custody of the child met with failure, and Rosemary kept the father and daughter apart.
At the age of 7, Theron, her mother and little brother were living in an old bus in Oude Moulen. She was taken out of school when
her mother could no longer afford to pay school fees.
Theron claimed her mother regularly smoked dagga and took psychedelic drugs, often leaving her to take care of her younger siblings.
Theron used the Clonard home schooling system to teach herself Grade 4, she said.
At age 12, she was sent to live with her father for months at a time because her mother could not afford to look after her.
At age 16, her father sent her to Knysna High School to do Grade 10. Theron also began drinking, smoking dagga and became sexually active.
She met Maspero in 2010 and started a relationship.
The couple moved back and forth between Cape Town and Knysna until Theron fell pregnant in 2013. Back in Cape Town she had an abortion. They moved in with Rosemary, but arguments were frequent as she disliked Maspero.
At one the stage, the couple was thrown out of the house and lived on the mountainside. They were robbed and begged to be allowed to return to Rosemary’s home. But the arguments continued, ending in the March 7 murder.
Theron said Maspero came up with the plot and convinced her by citing the well-being of her little sister, who had not attended school, and lacked social skills.
Last year, Scheepers confessed to the police that he had helped move Rosemary’s body, sparking the police probe.