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Toddler’s killer sentenced to life in prison, and other horror stories

Toddler’s killer sentenced to life in prison, and other horror stories
Sentenced to life: Ameeroedien Peters. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Breaking the skull of ex-girlfriend’s 18-month-old baby is just a first item in the long series of senselessly violent crimes Cape courts had to deal with in just the first two days of this week.

18 month old Jeremiah Ruiters (Photo: Supplied)

The case of murdered Jeremiah Ruiters, whose death was caused by blunt force trauma, can be described as one of the most hideous child murder trials yet heard. On Monday 31 August, Judge Monde Samela handed Ameeroedien Peters, 29, life imprisonment for the murder, 15 years for the rape and six years for child abuse.

His partner in crime, Abigail Ruiters, 34, convicted for child abuse, was handed six years’ imprisonment of which three years was suspended. The sentence was handed down in the Western Cape High Court by Samela. It was her “light” sentence that caused a stir among family members of the deceased.

Mother, Abigail Ruiters. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

The pair was convicted in December 2019. Passing judgment, Samela found the mother had been negligent with 18-month-old Jeremiah, failed to protect him, allowed Peters to continuously harm the child and elected to turn a blind eye.

Jeremiah was declared dead on arrival at the Factreton Clinic on June 12 2017 when Peters arrived with him there. He maintained throughout the trial the toddler had suffered a fit. He said he had wrapped the baby in a jacket and while running to the clinic, Jeremiah had slipped from the jacket, fallen to the ground with him on top of the child. But his evidence was refuted by pathologist Dr Marna du Plessis who proved the child-killer was lying.

Grandmother Pamela Timm. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Reacting to the sentence, Jeremiah’s granny Pamela Timm said:

“I’m really confused. I cannot believe that Abigail was handed such a light sentence. I listened to the medical evidence by the pathologist who described in detail that Jeremiah’s injuries were the result of blunt force trauma. She was his mother and should have noticed the injuries.”

Du Plessis, during testimony and giving an overview of the injuries inflicted  said the injuries to the penis and anus of the toddler were caused by blunt force trauma and the same force was used to cause injuries to the ribs, internal organs, spine and skull. There were also bite marks on his body. The court also heard the injuries to his anus showed multiple abrasions around this area as well as healed abrasions, and it would have been painful for the child to stool.

The medical evidence further showed the fresh injuries on Jeremiah’s head on the morning of 12 June 2017 indicated he had been held by the legs and dropped to the floor. It was against this horrific background that Judge Samela imposed life imprisonment.

This was one of three sentences meted out by high court judges in the past week. These sentences are a glimmer of hope in the face of the spike in GBV incidents.

On Tuesday 1 September in the Western Cape High Court acting judge Daniel Thulare sentenced serial rapist Thobile Dyonase to two life sentences and 210 years on 26 charges relating to kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, sexual assault and rape.

The accused had been a taxi driver while committing these crimes in Joe Slovo and Parklands. He was convicted on 1 June 2020. His modus operandi was to offer his victims a lift to their workplace in his vehicle.

Thulare reiterated that there were strong feelings of anger, displeasure and opposition to GBV, adding that women in particular were undergoing worry and unease.

“There were serious problems with the mind and its functions, of men like the accused. Which affected their behaviour. His mental characteristics and his attitude towards women led to abnormal, disorderly and violent behaviour.

“The decision to wake up in the morning, drive out of your ordinary route with the sole purpose of kidnapping, robbing and raping or sexually assaulting women arise in the mind and is related to the mental and emotional state of a person, in my view,” the judgment reads.

Thulare underlined that GBV was serious and prevalent, emphasising that rape in particular had a deleterious effect on victims personally and extended to their relationships. The probation officers report revealed the victims were afraid, angry and anxious.

Judge AJ Sievers sentenced Reagan Zietsman to two life sentences in the Circuit Court in Bredasdorp on Friday 29 August for the rape and murder of six-year-old Delvinia Europa on 24 March 2019. He was also handed eight years’ imprisonment for kidnapping and five years’ jail for defeating the ends of justice.

Meanwhile, pre-trial dates have been set for Jeremy Sias, accused of murdering horse rider Meghan Cremer in August 2019 and David van Boven and Tasliem Ambrose, linked to the murder of UWC student Jessie Hess and her 85-year-old grandfather Chris Lategan.

Cremer went missing from her home on Rietvlei farm on 3 August 2019. Her body was found five days later buried in a sand mine in Philippi. Initially three suspects were arrested in connection with her murder, but after hearing evidence in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court, the court ruled that Sias would face the consequences alone.

The state contends in the indictment in respect of the Hess murder that the accused, on or about 30 August 2019 near Flat no 3, Beaumont Court, Victoria Street in Parow, assaulted Hess’ grandfather and strangled him to death. The state further alleges that the pair raped Hess and killed her by strangulation. The matter was initially heard in Bellville Magistrates Court and transferred to the Western Cape High Court.

Both pre-trials have been set down for Friday 23 October in the Western Cape High Court.

In an unrelated matter, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) confirmed a police officer at Delft was arrested for allegedly raping his brother’s girlfriend on Sunday, 30 August. According to Ipid spokesperson Ndileka Cola, the victim was allegedly at her boyfriend’s place where they were having an upstairs party at his double-storey house.

The victim claims she was drinking alcohol and at some stage stopped drinking and decided to go to sleep in her boyfriend’s downstairs room. She was allegedly followed to the room where she woke up with her boyfriends’ brother, who is a police officer, allegedly raping her.

“The victim pushed him away and he walked out of the bedroom. The boyfriend’s friend, who was apparently in the same room when this occurred, grabbed her as she tried to reach for a cellphone with the attention of reporting the incident. He raped her as well, she hopelessly cried and screamed whilst he was raping her but no one heard her,” Cola said.

The police officer was apprehended by Ipid and is expected to appear in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday 2 September. DM/MC

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