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Toddler’s body was mutilated

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The of the 23-month-old toddler, who was raped, stabbed and dumped in the Vaal River near Delportshoop in April last year, was also mutilated where her genitalia was removed using a sharp instrument.

Johannes Moroe

THE BODY of the 23-month-old toddler, who was raped, stabbed and dumped in the Vaal River near Delportshoop in April last year, was also mutilated where her genitalia was removed using a sharp instrument.

The accused, Johannes Moroe, 40, is standing trial in the Northern Cape High Court on charges of kidnapping, murder, rape, defeating the ends of justice, assault, domestic violence, attempted rape and housebreaking.

During court proceedings yesterday it emerged that the accused told the police that he would have “cut the child up into pieces”, if he had a knife with him at the time. He also told the police that he attached a stone to her body and threw her into the river.

Head of forensic pathology at the Department of Health, Dr Lemaine Fouche, testified that the stone weighed 4,9 kilograms.

She indicated that the cause of death was drowning while she estimated that the body was submerged between one and two days. Fouche stated that the deceased was “clearly still breathing” when she was thrown into the water.

She explained that she was unable to evaluate injuries sustained to the genital area as all her genital organs were absent.

“The deceased was most likely lying on her back or was being pinned down and unconscious when a sharp instrument was inserted into the genital area.

Fouche indicated that, due to the wound, it was not possible for the genitals to have been removed under water.

“While aquatic activity, where fish and crabs eat away at the body, can occur if it has been underwater for a long time, no such marks were visible on the body and there was no atrophy.”

She said there was haemorrhaging on the skull, neck and pelvic walls with the injuries probably inflicted around the time of death.

“Swelling of the brain points to a lack of oxygen while her tongue was clenched between the front teeth. This is often seen in cases where death was as a result of asphyxiation or a seizure. The deceased must have been grabbed around the neck as the injuries are consistent with strangulation.

“Both lungs were fully aerated which usually indicates drowning. Her face was bloated and there were lacerations and bruises on the left side of the chest and abdomen.”

Captain Jacobus de Koker, from the SAPS investigating psychology research unit in Kimberley, searched the home of the accused in Rooikoppies, Delportshoop, and seized several items of clothing that were found in his bedroom on April 23 2019.

“We were looking for the clothes that the child, who was reported missing, was wearing when she was last seen.

“Inside the bedroom there were pillows stacked on top of a pile of clothes. I found two knives and two house keys when I removed the first pillow.

“There were also clothes, including female underwear, inside a black plastic bag. There was a small panty that looked a bit bigger than the size a baby would usually wear. The panty was a bit torn and stained. It was also taken as evidence.”

He added that the rest of the clothes that were stacked against the wall were folded but wet, and appeared as if it had been washed.

“The accused’s mother explained that the roof was leaking and caused the clothes to become wet.”

Captain Willem Abraham Fourie, from the Warrenton detectives unit, indicated that during questioning, Moroe had voluntarily pointed out the whereabouts of the body on April 23 2019.

“I stopped the interview as we were not able to secure legal representation for the accused. I explained his rights and informed him that he was not compelled to point out any thing or person connected to the crime. There was also no doctor available in Barkly West after hours and the J88 form of the accused could not be completed at the time.”

Fourie stated that the accused called him back after he had postponed the interview to provide him with details of where the body was dumped.

“He told me that he threw the child into the river under the big white house, where there is an unused pump room.”

He requested the accused to draw a map, as he was not familiar with the area.

“We calculated that it would take someone around 15 minutes to walk from the accused’s house to where the child was thrown into the river. The accused informed me that the child was wearing a white and black striped jersey and that he tied a stone to the body.

“The accused mentioned that if he had a knife with him he would have cut her into pieces before throwing her into the water.”

Legal representative for the accused, Advocate Dries van Tonder, indicated that after the interview was stopped, his client never offered any further information to the police.

Commander of the detective unit in the Frances Baard district, Colonel Johan Francois Myburgh, said he guided police divers who assisted in the retrieval of the body.

“The divers were searching too far from the location indicated on the sketch that was provided by the accused.”

He added that he was later informed that the body had been retrieved.

“Upon inspection of the scene the sketch matched the place where the body was found.”

The case continues today.