Kimberley - The body of the two-year-old girl who went missing in Rooikoppies, Delportshoop was so badly mutilated that it could not be determined whether she was raped or sexually assaulted as “her vagina had been cut out”.
This emerged during the bail application of Johannes Morwe in the Barkly West Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
The toddler went missing at approximately 10pm on April 20. Her body was found almost a week later in the Vaal River near Delportshoop following a joint search involving community members and the police.
Morwe, who is accused of housebreaking with the intent to assault and assault with the intent do grievous bodily harm, attempted rape, kidnapping of a minor and murder, appeared in court on Friday to apply for bail.
In her testimony, the investigating officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Marli Strydom, recounted the events which unfolded from the night that the toddler disappeared until her body was found.
Strydom said that the accused broke into the house of the woman that he is accused of attempting to rape.
She added that Morwe already had a pending case for contravention of a protection order obtained by the sister of the woman he allegedly tried to rape.
“At approximately 10pm on the night of April 20, the accused broke into the back room of the house. He knew that was where the woman, who had obtained the protection order, usually slept. When he did not find her there he went into her sister’s room, where he threatened her with a knife and scratched her neck with it. He wanted to have sex with her but she refused and the two ended up wrestling,” Strydom said.
She said that the woman’s two older children, aged 10 and eight, woke up during the scuffle. The 10-year-old then apparently opened the door and saw the accused.
“The mom and the two older children managed to flee the house,” Strydom said.
When questioned why she had left the two-year-old toddler and her twin brother in the house, Strydom said the woman was extremely traumatised and couldn’t think straight.
She further testified that the little girl had been lying sleeping with her mother in the bed.
Strydom went on to say that the mother and the two older children fled the house and when they arrived at the corner of the street, they looked back at the house and saw Morwe still standing on the stoep.
According to Strydom, Morwe, shouted to the mother, saying: “Ek is nog nie klaar met jou nie (I’m not finished with you yet).”
She said the mother and two older children went to a family member’s house and called the police.
The police arrived shortly thereafter and went to the house. The mother then informed them that she had left the twins in the house when she fled with the two other children.
“The house was searched and it was found that the little girl was missing.”
The police asked the neighbours whether they had seen or heard anything. “The neighbours had not heard the screaming of the mother and the accused as many of them had been drinking that night and were sleeping,” Strydom said.
Strydom further testified that the police had gone to Morwe’s residence, which he shared with his mother, but he was not there.
“At approximately 3pm they were successful and found him there and arrested him. At this stage the girl was still missing.”
An intensive search by the police and the community led to the discovery of the little girl’s body in the Vaal River near Delportshoop on April 25.
“According to the post-mortem report, the cause of death was strangulation and drowning, although there were also findings of mutilation before she died,” Strydom said.
She went on to say that the body of the little girl was naked when she was found. “The long sleeve of the tracksuit she was wearing was tied around one leg. A cement block was found in the middle of the tracksuit top.
“Because the body was so violated and mutilated - the vagina had been cut out - the doctor who performed the post-mortem could not determine whether she had been raped or sexually violated.”
Strydom stated that when they arrested Morwe they found two knives as well as bloody clothing believed to belong to the girl.
When questioned what evidence was still outstanding, Strydom said that they were still awaiting DNA results obtained from the mother, the accused and the deceased as well as the knives found and the bloody clothing.
“I am in constant contact with the forensic investigators and they have assured me that this is a priority case and they were working on it right now. The album should be available next week and the statements from the two older children should be completed within four to six weeks. They are still extremely traumatised. We will also be drawing up an impact report.”
It also emerged in court that Morwe’s criminal career started in 1997 and he has already been convicted of various crimes such as attempted murder. According to Morwe’s affidavit in support of his formal application, he only remembers the conviction of attempted murder. “I can’t remember any others.”
When Magistrate Mabaso asked how the family would feel if bail was granted, Strydom replied: “The family is living in fear. They are scared of him. The community also indicated during the search as well as a community meeting held on April 24 that they would take matters into their own hands. In fact, they threatened to march to the Barkly West police station where the accused was being held and overpower the police on duty to get to Morwe. They have also threatened to kill him if he is released.”
Morwe’s legal representative, Kenneth Juries, said that if his client was released on bail he would not go to the address in Rooikoppies but to another family member staying in Hartswater.
The State, represented by Mo Sebego, said that the address had not been verified and that Hartswater was not very far from Delportshoop. “In the interest of the safety of the accused, 115km is not that far and if the community want him, they will get him.”
The matter was postponed to determine whether bail would be granted or not.
Diamond Fields Advertiser