It was not a happy moment for 6-year-old Amy’Leigh de Jager when she started her fourth and final term of the 2019 academic year this week, the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate’s Court heard on Tuesday.
The State told Magistrate Hussain Kotha that little De Jager feared returning to school and that she cried all night on Monday.
In the dock, applying for bail, were suspended Laerskool Kollegepark Grade RR teacher Tharina Human and her co-accused, Laetitia Nel and Pieter Jacobus van Zyl.
The State is opposing their bail application.
The three are accused of kidnapping De Jager outside the same school on September 2.
Arguing on the State’s behalf, prosecutor Luanda Ngcobo submitted that the accused were a danger to themselves, society and that it was not in the interests of justice to release them.
“When she was supposed to go to school, they (De Jager’s parents) had to beg her. She was crying the whole night for her to not go to school. They had to change the place where they usually drop her. She is frightened and traumatised,” Ngcobo submitted.
Ngcobo said de Jager’s parents, Wynand and Angeline, told her that Amy’Leigh was worried and would often ask about the accused each time they appear in court.
Therefore, their release would traumatise her as she already lives in fear, she submitted.
Human, who was the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping, reportedly uses “narcotics” and owes money to drug lords.
Ngcobo said the “drug lords” were probably angry that the public knows about the alleged debt and would probably want to punish Human.
As Ngcobo argued, Wynand and Angeline could not hold back their tears and consoled each other while sitting in the public gallery.
“The State submits that these kids, young as they are, they watch television to know what is going to happen [to the accused]. They believe and have confidence in the court that it will protect them from the applicants before this court.
“It is the State’s submission that, should they go out there, they will definitely endanger the people out there. Not only other people but also themselves. They should be kept in custody for their safety,” Ngcobo submitted.
But defence lawyers argued that the evidence of the investigating officer, Constable Clayton Motloung, was baseless.
When testifying on September 19, Motloung told the court that the three accused initially planned to kidnap Human so that her family could pay a ransom which she would then use to pay the drug lords.
However, the plan was abandoned and they opted to snatch De Jager instead, the court heard.
He said a witness who was privy to the plan would testify during the trial.
But Human’s lawyer, David Mey, described Motloung’s evidence as “speculation”.
Mey and Nel’s lawyer, Stoffel Venter, as well as Van Zyl’s lawyer, Lungelo Chirwa, argued that the merits of the case had nothing to do with the bail application and were for the trial court to decide.
Mey added that, while the State submitted that the little girl did not want to attend school, it did not call her mother to testify so that the defence could test the evidence during cross-examination.
Judgment in the bail application was postponed to Friday, October 11.
Meanwhile, the fourth accused, Bofokeng Molemohi, who was arrested on September 23, is expected to appear in court for his bail application on Wednesday.