The little Wendy house at Dalia Street, Vaalwater in Springbok stands empty when just a few weeks ago, neighbours heard occasional laughter, a child playing, a mother cooking. Now everything is quiet and will remain so for some time.

Two weeks ago, neighbours heard cries for help but when they finally located the screams, it was too late. Aletta Swartbooi, 37 lay in a pool of blood, in a corner of the Wendy house.

She had been stabbed 48 times and her fingers were severed. Her partner, Jerome Walters, has been arrested for the crime. The two were in a relationship for six years and stayed in the Wendy house together.

The murder has left the community reeling, with residents saying they planned to go door-to-door to intervene if they suspected domestic violence.

Outside the Springbok Magistrate’s Court where Walters appeared for a bail application, residents held a placard demonstration calling for bail to be denied.

Family is bitter

Residents said Swartbooi was “happy” and “always smiling”.

“Whatever happened in the house, whatever pain she went through in there, she would not have shown it,” one of her neighbours told News24.

Swartbooi was the sole breadwinner in the household and supported Walters and her 11-year-old son.

“The family is bitter. They are struggling to come to terms with what happened. It’s just the prayers of the community that keeps them going,” said Swartbooi’s uncle, Jackie Jacobs, who also acts as the family spokesperson. Swartbooi attended the court case.

Back at Vaalwater, a residential area about 10kms outside the Springbok CBD, Swartbooi’s father pointed out where his daughter’s body was found.

“I don’t want to talk. It’s too painful,” he said.

He’s arranging the funeral that is expected to take place this weekend.

Residents said that while they are in shock, they believed violence against women had become far too familiar in the area.

They told of a 15-year-old teenager who was allegedly stoned to death by her 17-year-old boyfriend two months before Swartbooi’s death. Then there was a man who allegedly stabbed his girlfriend several times before mutilating her body.

Police have confirmed both incidents.

“Something needs to be done. We cannot keep on finding our girls and women like this,” said Margaret Joseph, a community leader.

“We need more programmes that look after our youth, the health of our youth, the health of the community for people to get work, their dignity back. We also need to go back to where the entire village raised a child. We need to do better as a community, as parents,” Joseph said.

She said a delegation planned to visit local and provincial politicians to ask for assistance.

Walters was denied bail and will remain in custody. His next appearance is on June 6.

Source : Online


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