Cape Town – A self-confessed child killer’s lawyer is asking for the minimum sentence for his client as killing a child is “not as important as rape”, the Cape High Court heard on Monday.
Last month, Pieter van Tonder admitted to brutally killing his girlfriend’s 17-month-old toddler Asheeqah Scott at his home in Roosendal, Delft, in September last year.
Asheeqah was burnt and then beaten to death.
Last month a forensic pathologist testified it was the worse case of child neglect she had yet seen. However, Dr Lara Peddle stated that although the neglect and abuse caused extensive injuries, it was not the cause of Asheeqah’s death.
On Monday, van Tonder’s lawyer, Advocate Henk Carstens, told the court he seeks the minimum sentence of 15 years for his client as this is “not the worst type of murder”.
“We are asking for the minimum sentence of 15 years. Life imprisonment is the worst sentence one could get. Life is to be considered for worse cases. This is not the worst case. Two murders are worse than one murder, a murder and rape is worse than one murder,” Carstens submitted.
An obviously irritated Judge Mushtak Parker shot back: “This is a 17-month-old child that was brutally murdered. Why should life imprisonment not be an option? This court has no restrictions on sentencing.
“Don’t tell me you want me to wait until he murders again. Can you imagine something worse than this?”
Members in the public gallery, including the tot’s family, nodded vigorously in agreement.
Peddle testified that Asheeqah had burn wounds, contusions and abrasions but the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
The child also had many infections like bronchial pneumonia, and an eye infection. She was severely malnourished and had an inter-cranial haemorrhage. She was strangled, and her ribs were fractured.
Her pancreas was nearly gone and her liver was like that of an adult who drinks heavily.
State prosecutor Ilze Herbst said van Tonder did not belong in society.
“He is volatile, look what he did to an innocent child; he should not be in society. Thus the State asks the court for the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.”
Parker said Asheeqah’s murder was a “heinous crime”.
“God forbid we should be desensitised when a child is murdered. In any society children are regarded as treasures. If they are being killed now, there will be no future,” Parker added.
Van Tonder will be sentenced on 27 November.
Original article on iol