On Wednesday, Pieter van Tonder admitted that he brutally killed 17-month-old Asheeqah at his Roosendal, Delft, home in September last year.
Appearing in the Western Cape High Court, he pleaded guilty to a charge of murder.
When presiding Judge Mushtak Parker asked Van Tonder whether he understood his plea, he responded: “Yes, I do know what it means. Ek is heeltemal skuldig.”
Also taking the stand was forensic pathologist, Lara Peddle, who shocked the court when she testified: “Her organs were in a state. Her pancreas was nearly gone and her liver was that of an adult who drinks heavily.
“I had never seen such neglect in my entire career, but the neglect did not cause her death, her injuries did.”
In his shocking plea explanation, Van Tonder admitted how he beat the toddler up and burnt her lips with a hot mandrax pipe.
“I was smoking mandrax with my friend Ricardo when the deceased’s mother asked me to look after her. I assaulted the deceased and hit her with an open hand on the face and she fell flat on the bed,” he said.
“I picked her up and assaulted her on her head and body. I did this three times and could see she was not moving.
“As I got into the vehicle, I threw her limp body on the back seat. As I drove, I held her body by the headrest of front seat, I sped up and braked hard and caused her to fall on the rear seat and floor.
“I got home and I prepared another white pipe. I heated the pipe and put it on her mouth and burnt her lips.”
Asheeqah’s mom Shakiera sobbed as she listened to the document being read out.
She and Van Tonder had been going out for five months at the time.
Peddle said Asheeqah had over 20 wounds on her body.
“The deceased suffered severe injuries, old and new. She had inflicted burn wounds, contusions (from strangulation) and abrasions, but the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head,” she testified.
“She also had many infections like bronchial pneumonia, an infection in her eye, under her finger nail.
“She was very malnourished. She had fractured and healing ribs.”
Van Tonder’s friend, Ricardo Marco, also took the stand and testified how he saw him beat the child.
He said they were no longer friends and asked the judge to hand down two life terms.
Judge Parker called Marco a coward: “Why didn’t you call someone? Did you ever get a chance to ask yourself why you just sat there like a coward and watch him beat the child? Now she is dead and you feel bad.”
The matter has been postponed to 6 November for closing arguments.