Tears as teens tell of bid to save mom

Mother allegedly beaten to death by dad just weeks later

A teenager’s heartbreaking account of how he acted as a human shield in an attempt to stop his father from abusing his mother just weeks before she was beaten to death reduced many to tears in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday.

Seeing his father in court yesterday for the first time since his arrest for murder in June last year, the 17-year-old said his world had been turned upside down following his mother’s death.

“I no longer know my father,” he said, before asking for an adjournment in order to compose himself.

His father, a 40-year-old former municipal employee from Despatch, cried in the dock.

He pleaded not guilty on the first day of trial yesterday to charges of assault, the contravention of a protection order, and murder.

The body of his 36-year-old wife, a stay-at-home mom of three, was discovered on the afternoon of June 5 last year near the Maak-n-Las Sports Complex in Uitenhage.

Her face had been beaten so badly, she was hardly recognisable to the family members who later identified her.

The couple’s names have been withheld in order to protect the identities of the vulnerable children, aged 10, 14 and 17.

Yesterday, their eldest son and the first wit-ness to take the stand in the trial testified to how his father had been a good provider for their family.

They lived in a large home, his mother did not have to work, and they en-joyed many luxuries.

But, he said, there was a lot of jealousy between his father and mother and when they drank alcohol, their fights, where they usually accused each other of having an affair, spiralled out of control.

The Grade 12 pupil recalled an incident sometime before his mother’s death when she took his father’s car after a fight and crashed it on purpose.

He also conceded to a submission by defence advocate Johan van der Spuy, although he could not recall the exact incident, that his mother had slashed her husband’s car tyres due to jealousy.

He said it was during the early hours of May 16 when he and his siblings were woken to the pair fighting in the kitchen.

He went into the kitchen and found his father allegedly hitting his mother in the face. He had held a kitchen knife in his left hand.

“I stood in between them to try and protect my mother. My father told me to move or else he would stab me. When I didn’t move, he stabbed me,” the youngster said, pointing to his chest.

Trauma counsellors, who have been working with the children since their mother’s murder, sat in the gallery yesterday as the teen testified.

“I ran into the bedroom and told my sister to call the police.”

He said as the police van drove past some time later, his father held the knife to his mother’s neck and told her that if she screamed he would slit her throat.

“He let her go when the van was out of sight and I ran to my mother and tried to help her. Her nose was gushing blood.”

The teen said he then wiped the blood up from the kitchen floor.

On May 18, the woman obtained a protection order through the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.

It is the state’s case that on June 5, the accused spotted his wife with another man at a sports complex in Humansdorp, and beat her to death with a rock. Her bloodstained cellphone was allegedly discovered in her husband’s vehicle upon his arrest later that day.

The youngster said he and his siblings had moved out of their family home the night of their mother’s murder and that they were now living with their maternal grandfather, who sat quietly in court yesterday.

Asked by state advocate Jason Thysse as to how he was feeling now, the teenager said: “I am sad and angry. I’m always insecure and unsure of myself, unlike when my mother was around.”

The trial continues today.

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