Asheeqah Scott’s little body was tossed, burnt and beaten until she died – all because her attacker was frustrated that her mother was taking too long to collect her baby
Pieter van Tonder pleaded guilty in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday for the one-year-old’s murder.
He was charged under dolus directis as Judge Mushtak Parker said there was no way that the accused was not aware that his actions will lead to certain death.
Asheeqah died while in Van Tonder’s care at his Delft home.
Her cause of death was as a result of head injuries.
She further sustained 26 external wounds, including bruising to her face and body and burns to her thighs and lips, pathologist Laura Peddle testified during sentencing proceedings.
Van Tonder had been dating Shakira, the baby’s mother, for about five months at the time.
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Mandrax and dagga
In his plea explanation, he described their relationship as volatile, saying he was a drug abuser while Shakira “consumed liquor” while Asheeqah was present.
In his plea explanation on 3 September, 2017, Van Tonder said his girlfriend had asked him to look after Asheeqah while she did the washing.
The baby accompanied him and his parents to the shops, where he met a friend with whom he then bought drugs.
He returned the child to her mother when he saw she was tired.
Van Tonder claimed Shakira was under the influence and that he had had to look for her.
He returned home where he and the friend smoked mandrax and dagga, during which Shakira arrived and again wanted to leave Asheeqah with them, Van Tonder said.
He eventually agreed.
‘She was not moving’
Van Tonder said his mother had asked him to go and buy two beers for his father.
While the friend went to fetch the money and empty bottles, he continued to smoke the mandrax pipe.
He allegedly became angry as he thought about a recent burglary at his home and that Shakira had still not returned.
He then hit the baby with his open hand in the face. She fell flat on the bed, Van Tonder said, and he assaulted her on her head and tiny body.
“I did this about three times, and after the last assault, I could see that she was not moving,” he said.
Van Tonder carried the baby’s limp body to his car and threw her on the back seat.
“As we drove off, I picked her up, then placed and held her body over the head rest of the front seat. I would speed up then break hard to cause her to fall on the rear seat and floor. I did so repeatedly,” he confessed.
Burnt her lips
When they returned to his house, Van Tonder said he prepared another white pipe with a broken glass bottle beck.
“I heat it, then placed it on the child’s mouth and burnt her lips.”
Asheeqah did not respond and he put her on the floor. When her mother arrived, Van Tonder claimed she had fallen from the bed and picked her up.
Asheeqah was unresponsive. Shakira’s sister then arrived, shouted at him and took Asheeqah.
“Later, I heard the deceased died,” he said.
Members of the public shook their heads and gasped in disgust as the baby’s extensive injuries were listed by Peddle.
She testified that Asheeqah had both old and fresh wounds, and that at the time of the post mortem, appeared to be malnourished and underdeveloped.
The friend who had witnessed the assault, Ricardo Marco, was lambasted by Parker, who asked him why he had not intervened.
Marco did not respond. Sentencing proceedings were postponed to 6 November.