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Cape Town - First he shouted at his two-year-old son, then he picked up the slight boy and flung him to the ground.
He did this three times.
Theophulus Groepies had soiled his nappy.
His father, John Hendricks, a confessed wife assaulter, was enraged.
The two-year-old, who weighed just 11kg and whose ribs jutted from his skinny frame, bore the brunt of his anger. Thirteen days later, Theophulus was dead. At first the boy’s mother, Roxanne Groepies, told the police that Theophulus had fallen out of bed.
At the time, Groepies, 18, was living with Hendricks, and after their son’s death Hendricks continued to assault Groepies.
This year, while she was pregnant with their second child, born a month ago, Hendricks assaulted her again.
Evidence before the Western Cape High Court, where Hendricks is to be sentenced on Thursday suggests Theophulus’s short life was punctuated by physical abuse.
A post mortem report says Theophulus suffered severe brain injury, forced blunt trauma to the head, and had a number of small scars and scabs on his body.
In an affidavit, pathologist Linda Liebenberg said she had examined Theophulus’s body and found him to be abnormally thin.
She also found a 5mm cut on the inside of his lip, a scar on the tip of his chin, and thin abrasions on his right buttock.
“Scattered over the back are a number of very indistinct, very thin, narrow superficial scabs,” the post mortem report reads.
Judge Robert Henney highlighted these issues in court on Tuesday as Hendricks entered into a plea and sentence agreement with the State.
It was proposed that Hendricks be jailed for 18 years for Theophulus’s murder, but based on the seriousness of the charges, Judge Henney was not satisfied that this was appropriate. He said a 25-year term in jail would be more suitable.
Judge Henney said he had gone through the proposed agreement on Monday evening and told prosecutor Nadia Ajam, and Ken Klopper, for Hendricks, that he needed time to consider a new sentence.
Klopper said the cut on the inside of Theophulus’s lip may have occurred when he was thrown on the ground, and the burn marks on his leg when a hot pot fell on him.
On Tuesday, a stony-faced Hendricks pleaded guilty to murdering Theophulus at the family’s home in Avondale, Atlantis on March 3, 2011.
Hendricks, who was unemployed and had an alcohol and drug problem, admitted he was angry when Theopolus dirtied his nappy.
He shouted at him, picked him up and threw him to the ground three times.
Later, Hendricks and Groepies, who was at home at the time of the assault, went to bed.
The next day, Theophulus had convulsions and was taken to a day hospital. He was transferred to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, where he died on March 16.
At first Groepies told a social worker and the police that Theophulus had fallen off his bed, but three days later she admitted to the police that she had lied under duress from Hendricks.
On Tuesday, Groepies and her grandmother, Johanna Groepies, sat side by side in the court gallery as they waited to hear Hendricks’s fate.
Hendricks admitted in court on Tuesday that he assaulted Groepies in December and on February 1. He repeatedly hit Groepies with his fist, a wooden broom and a belt because she was seen talking to a friend while walking home. She was pregnant at the time.
Their baby daughter is living with her maternal aunt
Hendricks also pleaded guilty to kidnapping Groepies and holding her captive in a caravan.
She managed to escape on February 4 and notified the police, who arrested Hendricks.
As part of the plea agreement the proposed sentence was 18 years for murder, six months for assault, five years for assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, and seven years for kidnapping. The sentences were set to run concurrently.
Judge Henney said he would formally sentence Hendricks on Thursday.