Cape Town - The future looks brighter for a Manenberg teen who confessed to stabbing her abusive uncle to death now that the murder charges against her have been withdrawn.
Chante Plaatjies, 18, said she was forced to contain her excitement at Athlone Magistrates’ Court last week when Magistrate Keith Le Kleur told her she was free to go.
After months of emotional court appearances and suicidal thoughts, the bubbly girl who opened up about the abuse she faced by uncle Rick Ashley Plaatjies, 29, said she can now focus on her dreams of becoming a pilot and community worker and not worry about spending her youth in Pollsmoor Prison.
Chante handed herself over to Manenberg police on February 10 after she stabbed her uncle once in the chest with a kitchen knife.
She said that during a heated argument witnessed by her grandmother, Anna Plaatjies, 63, she snapped after Rick Ashley hit her across the face with a crutch and cut up her clothes.
The Grade 12 pupil at Manenberg High School explained since the age of 13, she was forced to work as a seamstress on weekends to help the family financially.
Despite a protection order and opening five cases against Rick Ashley since 2014, she said her grandmother continually lied to police to protect him.
After his death, the girl had to move into a shelter after her family shunned her, and said people at the shelter raised the R500 for her bail.
“In April this year my ouma (grandmother) died and they said in court that she was the only witness to the stabbing,” said Chante.
“I was in the shelter and tried to go back home, but my aunty [and] them don’t want me there, so now I live with my other aunty.”
She said her matric year has been traumatic and she struggled to focus on her school work.
“I just couldn’t think about school because of this case. I mean, I don’t want to spend my life in Pollsmoor,” she said.
“I had five tasks that I just didn’t do because of the stress.
“I didn’t lie to the police, I told them what I did and that I didn’t mean to kill him.”
Chante said she felt the judgment from people in the public gallery each time she appeared in court.
“Everyone looks at a person and it’s not lekker (nice) standing in the dock,” she said.
“When they told me the case has been withdrawn I wanted to shout (with joy) but I had to remember I was in court.
“Now I am preparing for my matric ball in September. I am free now to focus on my future."