Tazné van Wyk murder trial: twin sister of accused brought in as state witness

Moyhdian Pangkaeker, the man accused of murdering eight-year-old Tazné van Wyk, claims that while he was in a minibus taxi with the child, he was assaulted and only heard the child scream as the attackers cut off her hand. 

Tazné was found dead in a stormwater pipe outside Worcester, Western Cape, two weeks after she disappeared from her street in Connaught Estate, Elsies River on 7 February 2020. 

Pangkaeker, 54,  was arrested on 17 February 2020 in Cradock in the Eastern Cape and told the police where the young girl’s body was. 

Tazné was raped, beaten to death with a blunt object and her hand cut off.

On the first day of Pangkeaker’s trial in the Cape Town high court on Wednesday, state witness Christopher Wright testified that he had seen the accused and Tazné in a taxi going to Parrow in the afternoon, around the time she disappeared.

On Thursday, the state called another witness to the stand; Nazli Pangkaeker, the twin sister of the accused. She recalled three separate events after Tazné’s disappearance when she communicated with her brother. 

The first interaction was a phone conversation on 9 February, two days after Tazné disappeared. The accused denied having the child with him and mentioned he was travelling but he did not disclose where he was. The conversation was cut short after two minutes. Later that evening, Nazli contacted Pangkaeker a second time. This conversation lasted about eight minutes. 

During the conversation, Nazli informed Pangkaeker that he had been seen at the Parrow station. She also told him that she and her family were being victimised and accused of housing him. Nazli warned him the community might hurt him and said: “I don’t want to hurt you. You are my brother.” She reminded him of the bond they had. 

She persisted in trying to get Pangkaeker’s location and establishing whether he had taken Tazné. But their conversation was again interrupted when her airtime was depleted.  

In cross-examination, the accused’s legal representative, advocate Saleem Halday, told Nazli that his client’s version was that he did not want to disclose his location because he was afraid he might be “blamed for killing the child”. 

At the time of the telephonic conversation on 9 February, it was not yet known that Tazné was dead. 

A brief third encounter between Nazli and the accused was when she visited him in Goodwood prison less than a week after he was arrested on 17 February. Pangkaeker requested to see her. 

Again the accused denied that he killed Tazné. He told his sister that he and the child were in a taxi when he was assaulted. He only heard the child scream.  

During cross-examination, Halday put it to Nazli that while visiting the accused in prison he mentioned something about “muti” (traditional medicine). She explained that Pangkaeker claimed the child’s hand had been cut off when he was assaulted in the minibus taxi, and that he thought the purpose was to use the limb for “muti”. 

Thursday’s hearing then went in camera when the state brought forward another witness who was a minor at the time she was allegedly indecently assaulted by Pangkaeker at the age of 13 in 1993. 

Pangkaeker faces 27 charges, including three counts of common assault, two of kidnapping, 11 of rape, a charge of murder, sexual assault, incest and desecration of a corpse. He pleaded not guilty to all counts. 

The trial will resume on Monday, 23 May.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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