In a bizarre turn of events, Leané van der Westhuizen, a Mpumalanga woman facing kidnapping, extortion and theft charges has spoken to Witbank News in an attempt to “clear her name”.
Van der Westhuizen was giving her side of the story following an incident in which she and her husband allegedly ganged up on a man she was dating at the time in March 2020.
The two suspects face charges of kidnapping, extortion and theft.
Van der Westhuizen, 20, and her 29-year-old husband first appeared in court on 3 March 2021. The case was postponed to 12 March for a formal bail application.
It was postponed again to 18 March due to legal issues. On 26 March, bail of R2,000 was granted to Van der Westhuizen. Her husband was denied bail and remains in custody.
Van der Westhuizen told her side of the story to Witbank News in the hope social media criticism would stop.
“Yes, I was part of this whole incident, but what is being said and what actually happened that night are two different versions. I’m here to humble myself and speak the truth, but can we please start at the beginning?” Van der Westhuizen said.
She met her boyfriend at the age of 14.
“I was young and terribly rebellious, yes I got mixed up with wrong friends, started using drugs and just went backwards from there. I fled with him (the accused), signed my own transfer forms of changing schools and we went to Barberton. There I got pregnant and did not go back to school,” she said.
The couple later married – a marriage she described as “toxic” and violence the norm.
“I know the public probably asks why I stayed then, but I was young. I thought it would get better and then our second daughter was born,” she said.
“I started seeing red flags and decided to end the relationship and move back in with my mom. Although the circumstances were not good for me or my children, I started moving on with my life and met a man.
“During that time my husband came back to me and again I forgave and went back to him. One night he took my phone and went through it and he came across messages from me and the victim. He was furious and said he wanted to beat up the man. But he had a big mouth, so I did not take it seriously.”
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“I was involved, but I did not inflict all the violence. I was forced by my husband to invite the victim for coffee and from there I just had to play along,” she said.
“I poured hot coffee on the victim and told him I was terribly sorry about what I was going to do now.”
She said her husband overpowered the victim from behind, assaulted him and hit him on the head with a hard object, after which the man lost consciousness.
“When my husband saw that there was an awful lot of blood, he insisted that I tie the victim with cable ties because he did not want blood on his hands,” she further said.
“Yes I did what he told me to do. Then my husband stabbed the victim in the leg with a sharp blade and asked how him he was going to fix the situation, because otherwise his family would be punished for what he had done to his wife and marriage.
“He confessed and said he would give money, but that he should not touch his family. That was when the transfer of R57,000 was done after a struggle. My husband then threatened the victim to make a statement stating that he had raped his wife and that the money was for the damage he had done to our family.
“The victim agreed with everything my husband insisted on and wrote a letter.”
After the torture which lasted about eight hours, Van der Westhuizen’s husband let the victim go.
“We fled to Richards Bay the day before the national shutdown where the abuse only got worse,” she said.
She again left her husband and moved back to eMalahleni, where she handed herself over to the Witbank police on 2 March.
“I just feel like I want to protect my children from what is still coming. At the moment, my life is at a standstill and my biggest dream is to just start over clean,” she said.
The two will appear in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court on 18 May.
Edited by Vhahangwele Nemakonde. This article was translated from Afrikaans