The former owner of Tjiff en Tjaff daycare in Phalaborwa was sentenced to five years in prison in the Phalaborwa Magistrate’s court on Thursday, the 18th of February. Elize Janse van Rensburg (56) was further declared unsuitable to work with children and she won’t be able to operate a preschool or work at a school or institution which deals with kids ever again. She was further declared unfit to possess firearm.
Her sentence followed a conviction of Assault with intent to cause a grievous bodily harm (Assault GBH) as per Phalaborwa CAS 31/09/2017 where she allegedly assaulted a 3-year old coloured toddler boy who was a leaner at her day care center.
On Wednesday afternoon of the 6th of September 2017 the mother of the young victim visited the daycare center and was met by her crying child who complained that he was assaulted. She inspected the child and observed bruises on his buttocks and ears. She immediately contacted the police where a case docket was opened and an investigation by Sgt Phionah Ndlovu of Phalaborwa Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offenses (FCS) ensued. The boy was taken to the district surgeon where medical examination was conducted and it revealed that the boy was seriously assaulted.
During her trial, Janse van Rensburg confessed that she assaulted the boy with an electric cable, however the motives was never disclosed. She was sentenced to five years direct imprisonment without the option of fine.
This, despite her defence team lodging an application for a wholly suspended sentence which the state prosecutor did not oppose. The state in fact, supported the application and submitted to the court that Janse van Rensburg was remorseful and that she was willing to pay compensation to the victim of R3 000 that she had raised, to which the mother of the victim refused and said that the state should do as they see fit.
Judge presiding, Magistrate PD Nkuna, however questioned what a suspended sentence would mean to the community.
“Those illiterate people out there in our society who, when they see a convicted person walking around, they think that the person has been discharged and the law did not run its course. They lose confidence in our law,” stated Nkuna as he was handing down his sentence to Janse van Rensburg. “According to them, law is when they see a convicted person suffering in his or her freedom and this is what this court will do.”
Magistrate Nkuna stated that the injuries sustained by the victim were serious and would also be serious injuries if they were inflicted on an adult, despite the defence, supported by the state, stating the opposite. He also said that the child would not only suffer visible injuries but also mental injuries as the evidence by the victim’s mother showed that she was already having difficulty in taking the child to school, as the victim allegedly refuses to enter a school.
Nkuna in handing down the sentence said that he would deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of 10 years because Janse van Rensburg was a first-time offender and of an old age.
However, he said that the day care owner, claimed to feel remorse for what she had done but, her sense of remorse had passed with time. “She claims that she wanted to plead guilty from the beginning but her [previous] defence advised her against it,” the judge said. He commented that if the accused had in fact been sorry, she would have left her defence when she wanted to plead guilty and her defence advised her not to. Nkuna felt that the defense had planned to mislead the court from the onset and that “It shows that the defence was undermining the intelligence of the court by coming to court and lying. The submission that the accused is remorseful is rejected by the court”.