There will be nothing that the defence can bring before the court this week that could possibly exonerate Rochelle Botha and Stefan van Niekerk for the brutal abuse and murder of two-and-a-half-year-old Chevonne Rusch. Action Society will be in attendance at the Palm Ridge High Court again this week to oversee Chevonne’s case when it is the defence’s turn to make their case.
According to Moira Kloppers, spokesperson for Action Society, Chevonne’s case should serve as a wake up call for everyone. “Every parent, every family member, family friend, every caregiver, every teacher, yes, every member of the public who have ever witnessed or knows of any form of child abuse should note: If you neglect to report abuse or if you fail to protect or aid an abused child, you are just as guilty as the one who committed the act of violence.”
“We lost 293 children to murder in the first quarter of this year. That is three children per day. Every day four children narrowly escape death due to attempted murder. Every day sixteen children are assaulted with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Do not tell me that no one noticed or suspected. We are all responsible to save our children.”
According to Kloppers it is easy to imagine Chevonne as a normal two-and-a-half-year-old, running, climbing and jumping – exploring her world. “At that age, she was supposed to be adding to her vocabulary to form three to four word sentences – communicating more clearly every day. But we need to imagine Chevonne’s actual reality for a moment. Imagine her with 49 wounds and bruises all over her head, face, tummy, lower back, legs and feet. Imagine her running, not for fun, but in fear. Instead of climbing and jumping she was probably cowering and hiding, shielding her bruised body from the blows that kept coming. Try to imagine the dominant words in her vocabulary: Probably “Nee!”, “Stop!”, “Mamma!” and “Eina!” Imagine her with head injuries so severe that it caused immense pressure to build up in her brain leading to a fatal brain blead over her last painful hours in May 2022. Imagine all of that and then try to stay quiet when you are confronted by abuse again.”
Botha and Van Niekerk are charged with Chevonne’s murder, assault GBH and various other charges relating to Chevonne’s older siblings.