2008-10-07 : Wife weeps, tells how cop husband shot kids

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2008-10-07 : Wife weeps, tells how cop husband shot kids

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-10-24 11:52

October 07 2008 at 06:59AM

By Karen Breytenbach

"His eyes were pitch-black. He looked me in the face, told me I had made my
choice and had to suffer the consequences, pointed his gun at 16-year-old
Bianca's head and shot her point-blank as she was sleeping.

"He then went to our 21-month-old baby's bed and shot her.

"I was pleading and crying with him to stop, but he calmly walked past me to
our son's Spider-Man room. He was cool, calm and collected. 'Boetietjie' was
sleeping with his face in my direction. Without emotion he pulled the
trigger. There was a big hole in my son's head."

Captain Charlotte van der Westhuizen, a personnel manager at Kuils River
police station, was testifying in the Cape High Court about how her husband,
Senior Superintendent Marius van der Westhuizen, former commissioner of the
Claremont police station, shot their three children in their beds with his
service pistol.

Captain Van der Westhuizen sobbed as she said her job was to protect people,
but on the night of July 28, 2006 she was unable to protect her children
from their father in their Brackenfell home.

"I always think I should have stepped in. I am a police officer, after all.
But I couldn't move. I thought he was going to shoot us all. I prayed my
parents wouldn't discover the bodies," she said.

Her husband's mentally handicapped daughter from a previous relationship,
Bianca "Sussie" van der Westhuizen, 16, the couple's son, Marius or
"Boetietjie", six, and Antoinette "Nettie Bettie", 21 months, were each shot
in the head with a Z88.

Van der Westhuizen tearfully pleaded guilty on all three counts, claiming he
suffered from post- traumatic stress and diminished culpability.

The state rejected his plea. The pleas were changed to not guilty. In the
stand, Captain Van der Westhuizen pointed at the dock and said loudly: "That
man murdered my children, unlawfully and intentionally. He looked me in the
eyes as he did it. I pleaded but he wouldn't stop."

Describing the night, she said: "He came to wake me up. He said I had to
choose between Kuils River (police station) or him. I told him it was not a
matter of choice and that I was going back to sleep.

"Then he walked to the safe, took out his service pistol and walked out. I
thought he was going to shoot himself in the braai room. I followed him into
the passage.

He told me I had made my choice and cocked the gun. I will never forget

"After he shot them, he said
to me: 'You see, your children are dead now.' He said I didn't have to
worry, he would not shoot me because he loved me too much."

Her husband took all the house keys, trapping her in the house.

The police later had to force the door open with a crowbar.

"A colleague stayed on the phone with me while I went to check if any of the
children had survived. I could see Boetietjie was dead, because the blood
ran over his eyes and nose.

"I went to the girls' room. Bianca's one eye was blue and swollen. She was
dead. I couldn't tell if Nettie Bettie was dead. My princess. Mommy's
lookalike. I touched her shoulder and heard
a gurgling sound. I screamed: "I think she's still alive!"

Blood and a dark substance bubbled out of the wound. It was brain matter.

"I thought to myself, it was better they were dead. They couldn't live like
this. He was her daddy. She did nothing to him. She just loved him."

Trembling but resolute, Captain van der Westhuizen recounted years of
emotional abuse since their marriage in 1998.

In 2004 her husband confessed to having an affair when she was 12 weeks'
pregnant, she said.

Following several incidents of behaviour she described as threatening and
controlling, she got an interdict against her husband, but later withdrew it
when he wanted a second chance. He had wanted to resign a number of times,
but she was opposed to this, she said.

He had become "very controlling and possessive" by the end of 2005 and
confiscated her personal bank cards, gave her pocket money, sometimes hid
the car keys and laptop battery, and locked her out of the house.

"I'm a grown woman with a BComm, in a senior position at work. It was
humiliating," she said, weeping.

She had once begged him to allow her to buy a box of Easter eggs, an item
not on their grocery list. "An Easter egg is like the eighth wonder in the
world to me. My family knows that. He said we could get the Easter eggs, but
I couldn't have any. He gave the children eggs and locked the box in the gun

He became angry if she was not home by 5pm every day.

She fled once because he was angry that she was late after she took the baby
to the doctor. Her parents from Malmesbury went back to the house with her,
but her husband was "drunk and aggressive" and assaulted her father. The
trial continues on Monday.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Times on October 07, 2008
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