The sobs of the 37-year-old man, dressed in his usual purple shirt, became louder when his ex-wife, who is also his co-accused, described how they endured hardships at the time.
They had to sleep in their car and in a caravan before they eventually moved to the “house of horrors” in Springs. This display of emotion came when his advocate, Anneke van Wyk, questioned his wife about their life together, and her claims that she was so terrified of him that she could not safeguard their five children from his alleged abuse.
The parents, who got divorced in July last year, while the woman was out on bail and the man awaiting trial in jail, are facing an array of charges, mostly involving the abuse of their children.
They are also facing a charge of attempted murder regarding their 11-year-old son, who was repeatedly beaten in the face with the fist by his father.
The man, identified as accused number 1, through his lawyer told the court that he would not testify. His wife, on taking the stand, blamed everything on him and said both she and the children were terrified of him.
She testified how he cuffed her and her son to each other from time to time, and then cuffed them to the legs of the pool table, where they had to remain for an entire night.
She told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in great detail, of other incidents where they were allegedly tortured at his hands.
The man, who often sat with the Bible open on his lap in the dock, from time to time during her evidence vigorously shook his head in disagreement with what she said. He also often dabbed his eyes with his handkerchief – but on day was the first time he loudly sobbed.
Judge Eben Jordaan was told that since he had been in jail following his arrest in June 2014, he had found God and was an active member of the jail Bible study group.
His wife said that she too was religious and that she prayed every day for her children, who were removed from her care after the pair's arrest.
Two women, who have taken the man under their wing and sat behind him in the public gallery, not missing a day, told the Pretoria News that he was now a changed person and highly emotional.
His wife painted a bleak picture of him during her evidence and she testified that she was virtually kept hostage by him.
She said she had to be by his side 24 hours a day and she was never allowed to leave the house by herself.