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Toddler’s murder was premeditated

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‘Moroe had gone to great lengths to cover up his tracks after committing the crimes…’

THE STATE believes that by tying a stone to the ankle of a 23-month-old toddler before drowning her in a river, Johannes Moroe, who is standing trial for allegedly kidnapping, raping and killing her, should be found guilty of premeditated murder.

Acting Judge Alme Stanton is expected to deliver judgment in the Northern Cape High Court today.

The toddler, Kutlwano Springbok, was kidnapped when her mother ran for help after the accused (Moroe) allegedly tried to rape her after breaking into their home in Rooikoppies, near Delportshoop, on April 20, 2019.

The child’s body was retrieved from the Vaal River five days later, on April 25, and it was discovered that her genital organs had been removed by means of a sharp instrument.

Delivering closing arguments yesterday, State advocate Keageletse Ilanga argued that Moroe should be found guilty on all charges, including kidnapping, rape, murder, attempted rape, housebreaking with the intent to commit a crime, defeating the ends of justice, domestic violence and assault.

She argued that Moroe had gone to great lengths to cover up his tracks after committing the crimes.

“Even though no one witnessed the accused penetrating the deceased with his penis, the State is convinced that this was the only reason why he removed all the genitals of the baby with a sharp object.”

Ilanga stated that any sort of penetration of the genital area amounted to rape.

Moroe was charged with committing an act of sexual penetration by inserting an unknown, sharp object into the anus and/or vagina of the toddler, thereby using it to cut her from her sub-pubic area to her rectum.

Ilanga said that according to the evidence presented by the forensic pathologist, the toddler had also been stabbed in the throat.

“The doctor testified that the deceased was probably unconscious when her genital organs were removed. Tying a 4.9 kilogram stone to the child’s ankle is pure premeditated murder. The accused defeated the ends of justice, where he ensured that the body would sink to the bottom of the river so that she would not be found. This was done to make sure that he would get away with his deeds.”

Ilanga indicated that the toddler’s mother, Anna Anowar, had no reason to lie when she opened a charge of attempted rape against Moroe.

“The accused suddenly came up with evidence that he had sexual intercourse with Anowar. He also left evidence unchallenged during cross-examination.”

She stated that credible evidence was placed before court that the accused broke into Anowar’s home and attempted to rape her.

“After he gained forced entry into the house, he attempted to undress Anowar and held a knife to her throat. Anowar and police officers testified that the accused took the child from her home.”

Ilanga said the State had submitted a protection order that was obtained against Moroe by the victim’s aunt, Christine Springbok, as an exhibit, relating to an incident of domestic violence.

“The accused assaulted her and gave her a blue eye.”

Moroe’s legal representative, advocate Dries van Tonder, called for his client to be acquitted on all charges.

“There was only a single witness with regards to the domestic violence charge. The incident was not corroborated by any other witness.”

Van Tonder stated that the domestic violence charge was “highly improbable”.

“Why would the accused attack Springbok (his ex-girlfriend) while she was asleep? There was no evidence of there being any prior disagreement or quarrel between the two.”

Van Tonder added that the State had only presented “circumstantial evidence” for the remaining charges, including DNA evidence.

“The accused’s version is not so improbable that it cannot be proven to be beyond reasonable doubt.”

He argued that the need to “destroy or conceal” the rape of the toddler could not be the only “reasonable inference” made by the State to explain why her genital organs were removed.

“The doctor’s evidence was that the deceased was still alive when she went into the water.”