Forensic criminologist Dr Pixie du Toit has testified on behalf of the 'Springs monster's' former wife, saying that she too, was a victim. File picture: Chris Collingridge/Independent Media

Pretoria - The now former wife of the so-called “Springs monster” described her husband as a gentleman during the first few years of their marriage - this in spite of him throwing her over his lap and giving her a good hiding in 1998 when they were engaged.

This emerged in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on Wednesday during the evidence of forensic criminologist Dr Pixie du Toit.

She testified on behalf of the 39-year-old mother, who is facing an array of charges involving child abuse, child neglect and attempted murder, alongside her husband, also 39. 

The couple were arrested in 2014 when their then 11-year-old son fled to the neighbours for help after his father severely assaulted him and his mother did nothing to help him.

The police and social workers subsequently uncovered what was happening behind the high walls and security cameras at the double story Springs house, dubbed “house of horrors.” 

Du Toit was of the opinion that the mother cannot be held accountable for the fact that she did not safeguard her children against her husband, as she too, was his victim and subjected to his manipulation.

The prosecution, however, grilled Du Toit on Tuesday for the second day,  regarding her findings. Prosecutor Jennifer Cronje maintained that the mother was not such a victim as she had claimed to be.

In referring to the evidence of the mother, Cronje said she did from time to time stood up to her husband. She also refuted Du Toits findings that the mother was virtually kept a prisoner in her home and that she hardly had any contact with anyone from the outside world.

But Du Toit said the mother, who had a low intellect, could not stand up for herself, let alone for her children. She described her as a battered woman who did not know any better.

The mother claimed that she had a happy marriage for the first few years. While there were a few incidents of assault during the first few years, the actual beatings started in 2008, when their son was five and their eldest daughter 10. 

According to the mother her husband, who was bulky at the time, was so aggressive and unpredictable, that everyone was afraid of him. She said she did everything within her power to appease him.

Cronje, during her questioning of  Du Toit, pointed out that the mother had been subjected to a psychiatric evaluation at Weskoppies Hospital at the start of the trial. A panel of psychiatrist as well as a psychologist agreed that she did not suffer from any mental defect at the time of the incidents.

The children meanwhile told the court that their eldest sister (then 16) mostly took care of them and not their mother. The mother denied this and said the children always ran to her when they were afraid.

Du Toit was of the opinion that the mother did not have the insight into what actually happened to her children. She referred to comments made by the mother on the day her children were removed from their home by social services.

She sat with the children in the car of the social worker, ready to take the children to a place of safety, when the family dog also wanted to get into the car. The mother remarked “it seems as if the dog also wanted to be removed”.  

Du Toit said this showed that the woman simply did not grasp the seriousness of what was happening.

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Pretoria News