Riaan van Zyl
7 minute read
22 Sep 2017
12:36 pm

‘Killer dad’ Pelser trial: mother testifies for the first time

Riaan van Zyl

The case will resume on 28 September. The mother of the deceased child will continue to give evidence.

Marthinus Pelser in court. Photo: Michelle Swart

The long-awaited trial of murder accused Marthinus Pelser, 23, has finally started.

The mother of the six-month-old boy who was allegedly murdered by his 22-year-old father Marthinus Pelser has on Thursday testified against the accused at the Roodepoort Magistrates’ Court, Roodepoort Record reported.

Police photographer Constable David Malithulele, who captured the scene on film, was first to be cross-examined. Next up was Sergeant Collen Lesele, who was the first police member on the scene.

Both the prosecutor, Paseka Temeki, and the defence focused on the cord that was hanging over the bathroom door, the cigarette butt in the bathroom basin and the broken mirror.

It is unclear where the state is going with its line of questioning regarding these three matters. It was clear from the start that the defence seems to draw into question whether unauthorised persons were on the scene who could possibly have compromised it.

Just after lunch the mother of baby Deon, Bianca Rothman took to the stand for the first time. (Temeki’s questions have been left out and Rothman’s answers are presented here as one flowing statement – verbatim, as far as possible.)

She started relaying the events of the day as of the morning before she went to work at Link Pharmacy in Rand Park Ridge. She told Temeki it took her between 10 and 20 minutes to get from home to work.

“I left just past 8am, after leaving my baby in the care of the accused. My son was happy and in good condition. The accused seemed normal and nothing out of the ordinary. After my shift, which finished at 1pm, I went straight to my mom’s house to get a haircut, where after I went straight home in order to shower,” she testified.

“When I arrived home I saw the accused changing my son’s diapers. After I had showered, I wanted to hold my son, but the accused refused. He said since I wanted a divorce he wanted to hold his son for as long as possible since he did not know when he was going to see him again. I could see he was irritated and in a foul mood,” she said.

“I wanted a divorce because the accused verbally, physically and emotionally abused me, and I did not want to be in such a relationship. I never reported it because I was too afraid of him since he threatened that he would kill me if I told anyone. He also abused me in such a way that it was not visible to others. He would lock all the doors and cover my mouth so no one could hear my screams.

“We had a verbal disagreement because he refused to give me my son. He went to put my son to sleep and then we discussed our argument. Everything seemed fine and we talked things over. The rest of the afternoon I played with my baby and between 4pm and 4.30pm woke the accused, who meanwhile went to sleep, before I left for work. Before I left we decided that I would get takeaways from the takeaway shop next to my workplace,” said Rothman.

“While at work he sent me a text message saying he was sorry about everything. I assumed he meant it was about our argument, and I replied that so was I. After work I picked up the takeaway and went straight home. When I arrived home the door and the safety gate were locked. I put my car keys and cellphone in my work jacket’s pocket in order to unlock the door and gate. When I got inside I hanged my jacket over a couch and put the takeaways on a yellow book on the kitchen counter. (Later Temeki would produce the book and asked her if it was the one on the counter. She confirmed that it was.)

“The accused then came out of the bathroom. He was wet and had no shirt on. I saw the broken mirror propped up against the couch. Then I saw he was holding a steak knife. When I went closer I saw he had a mark around his neck across his throat. There was also a shallow-looking cut on each of his wrists. I asked him where my son was.

“His demeanour suddenly changed, and he looked distressed when he told me, ‘I did something horrible, and I need to kill myself or you must kill me since I can’t’.

“I asked him for a second time where my son was, and he replied that he was sleeping in his cot. I went to my son’s room, but switched on the bathroom light in order not to wake him. In the corner of my eye I saw the bathtub was full and something was hanging over the bathroom door. The accused remained in the living room. My son was covered, and I lifted the side of the blanket where his head was. His head was blue, and he was very pale. There was blood on his face,” she said with her voice quivering.

“At this time, Rothman started crying uncontrollably. I switched on the light thinking it was the kitchen light creating an illusion, but when I switched on the light I saw that he was even more blue and paler than I thought,” said Rothman.

At this stage the court had to be adjourned in order for her to regain her composure. Members of the gallery were also sobbing out loud. As Pelser walked down to the cells, he told the media and members of the gallery, “gaan k*k”.

When Rothman returned to the dock, she recounted how Pelser had fled with her vehicle and cellphone. She rushed to the security guard at the gate, telling him “call the police, he murdered my baby”.

“Decent [the guard] tried numerous times to call the police, but in vain. Eventually I phoned my mom to come over. It is uncertain who reached the police, but after a substantial time has passed they arrived. Shortly after the paramedics arrived,” she said.

She sat in her mother’s car while her mother went into the house. When she needed the bathroom she asked if her mother could take her to her mother’s house, which was around the corner. When she returned she remained in the vehicle until a female paramedic came to her.

Rothman and members of the gallery could again not hold back the tears as she recounted what had happened next.

“She asked me if I wanted to hold my son for one last time before they took him to the morgue. My mother said it was not a good idea, but I insisted. I, my mother and a family member went to my bedroom, and we sat on the bed. The paramedic brought me my baby and handed him to me in such a manner that I could only see one side of his face. It was swollen even more, and was blue and pale. There was blood over his eye, nose and ear. He felt heavier than usual. She allowed me to hold him for as long as I wanted,” said a crying Rothman.

“When they took him from me I asked whether my mother and I could leave before they loaded him into the morgue van. I asked them to treat him with respect,” said Rothman.

Temeki then walked her through the photos, with those in which her baby was depicted blacked out.

The case will resume on 28 September. Rothman will continue to give evidence.

Caxton News Service

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