Cape Town - In an explosive first day of the trial of Moehydien Pangaker, in the Western Cape High Court, the court saw Tazne van Wyk on footage which is predicted to be her last moments alive.
Pangaker is on trial facing 27 charges and, on Wednesday, pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The charges include common assault, kidnapping, 12 counts of rape, child exploitation, child grooming, murder, sexual assault, incest, intimidation, and the violating or desecration of a corpse.
Some of the charges date from 2016.
He made headlines after he allegedly kidnapped, raped and murdered eight-year-old Tazne.
The girl, from Connaught Estate, in Ravensmead, was last seen on February 7, 2020, after she left her home to buy a sucker (popsicle) at a shop, a few metres from her home.
The child’s body was found in a stormwater drain, along the N1 highway in Worcester, 12 days later. Pangaker had pointed it out to police.
The girl was raped, bashed to death, and her hand was cut off.
State prosecutor advocate Lenro Badenhorst called his first of 90 State witnesses, Tazne’s father Terence Manuel.
The heartbroken father testified that he did not know Pangaker personally and only knew him in passing.
On the day of Tazne’s disappearance, Manual said it was like any other day. Tazne, who was Grade three at the time, came home from school after 1pm.
The young girl undressed into a striped coloured jumpsuit and sandals and, as she went to the shop, he thought she had gone with her friends to a local community project group, which meets every Friday.
“She left from the main house. I saw her going opposite (the road) to the shop at about 2pm. I never saw her again.
“When I saw her friends coming from the group, I asked the eldest one where Tazne was and she said she doesn’t know,” Manuel testified.
His wife and Tazne’s mother Carmen van Wyk arrived home at 5pm and they searched their home and those of all her friends, but their daughter was nowhere to be found.
Carmen later filed a missing person’s report at the local police station.
Badenhorst went further and brought up footage taken at a garage, along the N1 highway near Worcester, in the direction of De Doorns.
While viewing the first footage in the parking area of the garage, Manuel visibly points out Pangaker, but said he could only see a child walking alongside him.
However, in the last footage shown to him, Manuel was adamant the footage, which shows what is alleged to be Pangaker and Tazne walking away from the garage, turning left towards De Doorns, as Tazne.
“That is my daughter. The girl looks like my daughter. I can see by the way she walks,” he testified.
The distraught father said he could not think of any motive for his daughter’s death.
Carmen took to the witness stand next, and described her daughter as a clever, loving and obedient little girl.
As emotions overwhelmed her and she broke down, Pangaker, sporting a leather jacket and leopard print face buff, also shed some tears.
Another witness, and possibly the last person to see young Tazne alive, Allison Karels, from Worcester, took the stand.
She explained to the court how she met up with this unknown man and young girl walking along the N1, on the night of February 7, 2020.
Headed home from a night of socialising with friends, Karels told the court they were driving in a white BMW went she noticed the pair walking. Her concern for the child had her demanding the driver turn around.
“They were walking on the pavement and my main thing was that this child must be getting cold.
“We drove up to them and asked where they were going. The man (Pangaker) said they were headed to Beaufort West to the child’s mother.
“They got into the vehicle. I moved to the backseat and she (Tazne) was sitting with me, while the man was sitting in front on the passenger side,” she testified.
Karels told the court that Pangaker had luggage with him and Tazne had a backpack on her.
She described the young girl as friendly and said Tazne spoke to her as if they knew each other for years.
Karels said they went to the closest garage, as she had an emergency, however, before she saw to that, she went up to some truckers with Tazne by her to ask for a lift for the pair to Beaufort West. However, she was unlucky.
Footage shown to the court corroborated this.
Pangaker did not deny this either.
“I then asked my landlord (and the driver of the vehicle) if they could sleep over because I could see the child must be getting cold. She had a pair of shorts on.
“But the gentleman said they are not sleeping there. They needed to get to Beaufort West, to the child’s mother. He did not explain his relation to the child and I did not ask.
“He still tried to sell a USB memory stick to us for money, but we didn’t buy it,” Karels testified.
It was at this time that the pair, Pangaker and Tazne, got out of the vehicle and left.
“They walked and turned left, and I never saw them again after that,” she said.
However, on Sunday, February 9, 2020, she got the shock of her life when her landlord woke her abruptly and showed her the missing persons posters of the pair.
“My landlord was uncertain at first, but I said it was them. I will never forget his face. I remember because I even made jokes about him after we got home that evening.
“After I saw the photos, I checked on my own phone and read the child was kidnapped. I went to one of my colleagues and asked what I should do. I called the police (Worcester, as they were closest) and I contacted the police officer whose details was on the poster,” she testified.
During the last footage of Tazne alive at 11.50pm, the eight-year-old can be seen walking next to Pangaker, holding a water bottle in her hand and wearing a jacket a few sizes too big for her, before disappearing forever.
The trial continues.