The man accused of murdering eight-year-old Tazné van Wyk in February 2020 faces 27 charges, 24 of which he allegedly committed while on parole.
Moyhdian Pangkaeker evaded the justice system for about four years, from 2016 to 2020, during which time he twice absconded while on parole.
Documents from the state indicate that when the 58-year-old was arrested for assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm in December 2019, he was released on a warning three days later.
Court documents from the case of Tazné’s murder show that 12 of the charges related to the rape of women and other minors, including his daughter.
According to the court documents, Pangkaeker “did unlawfully and intentionally assault [his daughter] by hitting her multiple times with his fists in her face and on her body”. The injuries sustained by his daughter — whose name is being withheld — were so severe she was taken to hospital.
Neither the South African Police Service nor the National Prosecuting Authority could explain why Pangkaeker was released from custody on a warning in December 2019.
Criminal law expert James Grant says although there should have been red flags about Pangkaeker’s actions, “it is not unusual”.
“The system is so crippled we shouldn’t be surprised that this sort of thing happens,” Grant said, adding that a magistrate must play an “active role” in deciding whether the accused is fit for bail.
He points out that magistrates are overwhelmed and “don’t necessarily know all the information” that should be placed before them to make the best decision.
After receiving the warning, Pangkaeker was arrested less than two months later, on 17 February 2020, on a court warrant for failing to appear in court on 6 February.
He was sought by the police after Tazné’s disappearance from her street in Connaught Estate, Elsies River on 7 February 2020.
The department of correctional services said prior to his arrest in February 2020, “numerous efforts were launched to trace the whereabouts of the parolee, without success”.
Heavy clouds darkened the sky as raindrops fell on the steps outside the Western Cape high court at the start of the trial on 18 May.
Outside court, Tazné’s grandmother, Theresa Manewil, spoke about her deep longing for her grandchild. It would later emerge in court that Manewil was one of the last people to see Tazné. She had asked the girl to buy her two cigarettes from the tuckshop across from their Elsies River home. This was not an unusual request.
But Tazné did not return and was reported missing on the evening of 7 February 2020.
Her body was found in a stormwater pipe outside Worcester two weeks after she disappeared.
Pangkaeker told the police where Tazné’s body was after his arrest on 17 February in Cradock in the Eastern Cape.
Tazné was raped, beaten to death with a blunt object and her hand was dismembered.
As stated earlier, court documents contend that Tazné was not Pangkaeker’s first victim, and that the majority of his offences were committed after he was released on parole in 2013.
Pangkaeker faces 27 charges, including three counts of common assault, two of kidnapping, 12 of rape, one of murder, as well as charges for sexual assault, child exploitation, grooming of children, intimidation, incest and violating a corpse.
He pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Pangkaeker was convicted in 2001 in the Bellville regional court after he was found guilty of kidnapping and culpable homicide when he took his wife Rosetta Petersen’s two-year-old son from her. He kept the infant, who was not his biological child, for about three months.
The child was beaten and neglected during this time, leading to his death, according to the appeal documents. Pangkaeker was sentenced to an effective 10 years in 2008.
Pangkaeker appealed this sentence. During the appeal in 2009, it was put to the court that he lacked education and had been raised by a single parent with eight siblings.
“He no doubt had to fight for every bit of attention, support and necessities,” the judgment read. “His upbringing it is said was plagued by the ills of his immediate surroundings which included massive unemployment, drug abuse, et cetera.”
The appeal was dismissed.
Singabakho Nxumalo, the spokesperson for correctional services, told the Mail & Guardian that Pangkaeker was considered for parole because “he completed his minimum detention period and also completed a series of programmes and interventions, based on his sentence plan”.
Pangkaeker was released on parole on 3 April 2013 “having completed additional interventions which were identified by the case management committee,” said Nxumalo.
Although some parolees continue with rehabilitation after being released from prison, it appears that Pangkaeker did not.
He first absconded from parole in 2015. In October 2016, he was placed on parole supervision at the Ladismith Community Corrections Office after police caught him driving without a licence and in possession of stolen goods, said Nxumalo. In May 2019, Pangkaeker absconded from parole a second time.
According to Nxumalo, when a parolee disappears he is “formally declared as an absconder” and a warrant is issued for his arrest and detention. An additional criminal charge is also made in terms of the Correctional Services Act.
When an absconder is apprehended by police and positively identified by the corrections office, “a warrant will then be issued for the parolee to complete the remainder of the sentence he/she owes since absconding”.
“The parolee may also receive additional sentencing in relation to the criminal charge laid,” he added.
But Pangkaeker was arrested for assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm on 24 December 2019.
On 27 December, he was released on a warning — and without receiving any additional sentencing for absconding his parole twice.
The matter was postponed to 6 February but Pangkaeker failed to appear in court that day.
He was arrested two weeks later with a warrant of arrest for failing to appear in court on 6 February, according to Sergeant Wesley Twigg, the Western Cape’s police communications officer.
Tanze was killed between 7 and 17 February. Pangkaeker’s connection to the disappearance of Tazné was later added in court.
Wendy Kaizer-Philander, the chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Women’s Network in the Western Cape, expressed her disappointment outside the high court on 18 May.
Kaizer-Philander believes the case of Pangkaeker “just comes to show that the justice system is dismally failing the people of this country, but also the rehabilitation system is not working”.
“Where does this injustice stop? And how is this going to be addressed?” she asked.