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Man in court for brutal murders

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“They had been separated for almost six months and Pietersen was not happy about the situation”

Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE MAN accused of brutally killing his 18-year-old former girlfriend and their 10-month-old baby will have to wait another week to hear if he will be granted bail.

Michael Pietersen yesterday appeared in a packed Windsorton Magistrate’s Court, full of angry community members, on two charges of murder after allegedly stabbing both Kantsimang Lesite, the 18-year-old mother of his baby son, and his son before setting them alight.

Their charred bodies were found on May 12 hidden among dense bushes and trees near a foot bridge close to the Windsorton hydroponic plant.

A passer-by came upon the bodies while on his way to church at around 8am on the day.

Lesite’s father, Elias, identified the bodies.

Detective Constable Kgositsile Israel Taolo, an investigating officer on the case, yesterday testified in court that Pietersen and Lesite had been partners but had been separated for a long time already at the time of the alleged incident.

“They had been separated for almost six months and Pietersen was not happy about the situation,” Taolo said.

This was evident, Taolo said, from the various witness statements the investigation team obtained.

“From our interviews with them it was evident that the accused had been pestering her since their separation and was begging her to come back to him and live with him.”

According to Taolo, on May 12 the man who found the charred bodies informed a Captain Brown that he was on his way to church when he came across the body of a person lying on the ground with a child’s foot sticking out from under the body.

“Captain Brown dispatched patrol officers to the scene. The officers positively identified the body of a woman lying on top of burnt-out piece of wood. She had sustained visible burn injuries from just below the navel to the top of her head. They also found the body of a child with visible injuries.”

Taolo said that while they were gathering evidence on the scene they found a shoe print on the ground which they captured. “There was also blood on the path next to the bodies as well as stones with blood on them.”

This evidence was also collected. According to Taolo the shoe print was that of an All Star sneaker.

He went on to say that information they received led them to the accused.

He said the police obtained the address of the accused and went to the house. At the premises they observed a shoe print of an All Star sneaker similar to what was found on the scene.

“They then went inside Pietersen’s shack and saw that the floor was wet. Behind the door hung a blue overall, blue pants and a blue T-shirt. All of the clothing was wet as if it had just been washed. On closer inspection, the investigating officer noticed what appeared to be blood spots on the clothes,” Taolo said.

According to Taolo, when Pietersen was questioned about the wet clothes and apparent blood, he could not provide an answer.

Taolo said that during the search of Pietersen’s home the police found a black All Star sneaker, which was also wet, on the roof of the shanty.

The police then gathered the clothing and sneaker for evidence in the presence of the accused, according to Taolo.

Pietersen was then arrested.

Taolo said that Pietersen then voluntarily spoke to the police and told them that he had first tried to force Lesite to stab their child, which she would not do.

“Pietersen then stabbed the baby boy and then stabbed Lesite and hit her on the head with stones. The police then reminded Pietersen of his rights, but he continued talking. He said he would make a full confession to a magistrate. He was then again reminded of his rights,” Taolo said.

According to Lesite’s father’s statement, Pietersen went to the family home to look for Lesite.

Taolo said that when Elias asked why he was looking for his daughter, Pietersen said “Jy sal sien. Ek sal Kantsimang en die kind uitbrand.” (“You will see. I will burn Kantsimang and the child.”)

In another witness statement, Taolo said that Pietersen had obtained a bottle of spirits. He then forgot the spirits at a friend’s house. “When he returned to the house to fetch it he had an angry look on his face and appeared aggressive.”

Taolo said that Pietersen then also told this person that he was going to burn Lesite. “Sy vat my vir ‘* * **s. Ek gaan haar kry.” (“She thinks I’m a fool. I’m going to get her”)

According to Taolo, Pietersen had been going around telling people the reason why he wanted to get back with Lesite was because he wanted to see his child.

“He told them that if he doesn’t get to see his child he will go to a magistrate to obtain custody of the child. Pietersen was then told that he should just leave things as they are as Lesite was looking after the child and he was unemployed. When Pietersen heard this, he once again said that he would burn her,” Taolo said.

At this point in the court proceedings, Pietersen shouted out, “Jy lieg.” (“You lie.”)

Taolo further testified that Lesite had been constantly abused by Pietersen but was too afraid to obtain a protection order.

“At one time he hit her feet with a hammer and another time he bust her lips. She wanted to obtain a protection order but Pietersen threatened to kill her if she went ahead. Lesite also went to the police after these incidents and the police just went to the accused to tell him to stop attacking her.”

Taolo said that this case needed to be looked at as a domestic violence case which led to murder.

“This is a man who should have been a father figure to this child. He failed him. This boy could have been a doctor or anything else and he stole this from him.

“Everybody has the right to life. Nobody has the right to take it,” Taolo said.

Pietersen’s defence lawyer, Kenneth Juries, accused the State of “beating a confession” out of his client.

“Why was he booked out with nobody informing me? You knew he had legal representation but I was not consulted.”

Juries went on to accuse the State of sloppy police work. “All you are basing your case on is witness statements. It could all just be rumours and stories. There is no concrete evidence either that the footprint found at the scene belongs to the accused. There are many people in the community who own All Star sneakers.”

Juries went on to say that the State had done absolutely nothing to help the deceased. “When she went to report that she had been hit on the feet with a hammer – you did nothing. She was crying out for help and the police turned her away.”

A petition from the Windsorton community was also handed in to the court asking that Pietersen not get bail.

“I’m glad the community is here so that they can see that there is no evidence linking Pietersen to the crime. It is only rumours.

“There is no prosecutor who would want to try this case with no evidence. I feel for the family of the deceased and I really hope justice will be served,” Juries said.

State prosecutor James Dada said that it would not be in the best interest of the community if Pietersen is released on bail. “You see the hundreds of people who have packed this courtroom. There is also a petition signed by 211 members of the community asking that he not get bail,” said Dada.

At the end of the court proceedings, court staff cleared the room before escorting Pietersen out. However, the crowd could not be held back and a family member of Lesite tried to attack him with a stone.

Magistrate J Mabaso postponed her decision to next week.