Springs 'House of horrors' father described as a psychopath and sadist

01 October 2018 - 07:43 By Naledi Shange and Nico Gous
Image: Thinkstock

A father who terrorised his children in what became known as the "Springs house of horrors” case has been described as a psychopath and a sadist.

That is what clinical psychologist Bronwyn Stollarz told the Pretoria High Court on Monday.

The mother and father kept their five children locked up in their home in Springs‚ Gauteng. The couple‚ who cannot be named to protect the identity of the children‚ were found guilty of a string of charges in August. They were expected to be sentenced on Monday.

The reign of terror against their children made headlines four years ago‚ with details of how they were burnt with blow torches‚ tied into a closet and kept handcuffed revealed when the trial got underway.

Stollarz said the father had a serious “lack of insight”. He felt as if he was being rehabilitated and had found the Lord and that by extension‚ his children should also be forgiving and want a relationship with him.

“My concern is that with his lack of insight and thinking about his behaviour‚ comes the risk of recidivism or acting out if you don’t believe or have knowledge of or insight into what harm you have done your victims‚ what would stop you from doing that again? …I feel the accused knows what he did was wrong and therefore stated that he’s sorry for what he’s done‚ but that [this] does not indicate remorse.”

The court heard the father had started his own church group in prison. “The accused will only adjust to prison life if he’s able to take some form of control over his environment based on these personality characteristics‚” said Stollarz.

The court previously heard how the father cuffed his son and peppersprayed him‚ dunked him in water and deprived him of food. His then 11-year-old son had‚ on occasion‚ been suspended by his hands and feet by chains from poles‚ and whipped and beaten with a knobkerrie. For these crimes‚ the man was found guilty of attempted murder.

The court also heard chilling evidence of how he had sexually abused his daughter by touching her private parts‚ performing oral sex on her and trying to penetrate her. For this‚ he was found guilty of rape.

The man was also convicted of dealing and being in possession of drugs‚ and defeating the ends of justice. The only charge on which he was found not guilty was being in possession of explosives.

The woman‚ who had kept her children’s trauma secret‚ was found guilty of defeating and obstructing the ends of justice‚ and possession of drugs.

She was found not guilty of the attempted murder of their son, nor of child abuse‚ but was convicted on five counts of child neglect.

In August in a lengthy judgment Judge Eben Jordaan detailed how the children were not properly fed‚ had no friends‚ did not attend school and lived in filthy‚ rat-infested conditions.

The horror was initially revealed when the 11-year-old boy escaped from their home and alerted neighbours.