The Springs father who tortured and tried to kill his son, raped his daughter and severely abused all of his five children is a psychopath and sadist who poses a high risk to society, a psychologist told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
Psychologist Bronwynn Stollarz testified that the man’s own father had severely abused him as a child, he was sexually abused by one of his father’s friends and he developed depression after both of his parents died during a murder-suicide incident.
She said that as a former officer with the police’s investigative psychology unit, she had interviewed many suspects, but had never seen the degree of minimisation and lack of awareness to the extent displayed by the father.
He believed he had been fully rehabilitated because he had “found God” and started his own small church group in prison, but Stollarz conceded this might simply form part of his manipulative nature.
“He feels he’s been rehabilitated and has found the Lord, and thinks by extension his children must also want to have a relationship with him.
“…I feel he knows what he did and says he feels sorry for it, but that does not indicate remorse,” she added.
Stollarz testified that the father would remain a psychopath and sadist for the rest of his life and had negative prospects for rehabilitation, but could be helped to improve his insight into his crimes and the the impact they’d had on his children.
The father (40) was convicted on charges of attempting to murder his then 11-year-old son, raping his daughter (then 16), defeating the ends of justice and obstructing justice, five counts of child abuse, five of child neglect and of drug dealing and possession.
The mother, who was described as a battered woman by the court, was convicted of defeating the ends of justice and obstructing justice, as well as five charges of child neglect and of drug possession.
The severe torture and abuse of their five children came to light after their eldest son fled to the neighbours following a particularly brutal beating by his father. A neighbour alerted the police, but by then the couple had hidden the boy in the ceiling and later took him to family in the Free State.
The family’s large double-story house in Springs, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, became known as the house of horrors because of its filthy state, with rats running around freely and no food in the cupboards.
The State handed in victim impact reports about the three youngest children and statements by the two eldest children revealing that all of the children were developmentally stunted because they never went to school, did not trust grownups and most showed signs of aggression.
The older children said they hated their parents and wanted nothing to do with them ever again. The eldest boy (now 15) who bore the brunt of his father’s sadism, said he hated his father intensely and would have killed him if he could. He felt he would never be normal and wondered why he was still alive, although he felt he had saved his siblings by escaping and getting help.
The eldest daughter (now 20) said she had believed the torture, neglect and abuse was “normal” and only realised it was far from normal after going to stay with relatives.
The State asked for long-term imprisonment for the father and direct imprisonment for the mother, but counsel for the mother argued that she should only receive a suspended sentence, as she was also a victim of abuse.
The trial continues.