Tazné van Wyk murder trial: Accused pleads not guilty

Eight-year-old Tazné van Wyk was last seen alive in the presence of the man accused of her murder, Moyhdian Pangkaeker, on the day of her disappearance on 7 February 2020.

Footage submitted to the Cape Town high court on Wednesday showed Tazné leaving a fuel station on foot with the accused holding her hand just before midnight. Tazné was dressed in shorts and an oversized jacket. 

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. 

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. Pangkeaker was arrested on 17 February in Cradock in the Eastern Cape. He told the police where Tazné’s body was. 

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

After a postponement of a year, the trial into her death resumed on Wednesday, with the state calling four witnesses.  

Included were Tazné’s parents, Carmen van Wyk and Trevor Manuel, as well as Alison Carels and Christopher Wright, who both claim they saw Pangkaeker and Tazné on the day of her disappearance. 

Carels offered Pangkeaker and Tazné a lift late on the Friday evening of 7 February 2020 after she and friends were heading home from Worcester. 

She told the court that Pangkeaker mentioned he was on his way to Beaufort-West, where Tazné’s mother lived. At the fuel station, Carels attempted to ask a truck driver for a lift to Beaufort-West. 

But the accused’s representative, advocate Saleem Halday, told Carels during cross-examination that although his client confirmed he accepted a lift from her, she “misheard” him. 

Halday argued that according to his client, Carels was “drunk” and did not hear that he wanted a lift for the girl back to Cape Town. 

Carels denied she was drunk, and said she remembered him mentioning Beaufort-West. She also offered them a place to sleep for the night but Pangkeaker declined the offer. 

Further footage presented in court showed a taller person holding the hand of a young girl leaving the fuel station and walking in the direction of De Doorns. Carels identified the figures as the same people she later saw on pamphlets widely circulated after Tazné went missing. 

The fourth witness, Wright, testified that he too saw Pangkeaker and Tazné in a taxi to Parrow earlier that Friday between 1pm and 3pm, about the time Tazné disappeared. 

At the time of her disappearance, Tazné was in grade three, and was described by her father as a clever student. He added that she would not walk with someone she did not know. According to both parents, they did not know Pangkeaker, nor did Tazné. 

The accused was an absconded parolee after being sentenced to 10 years in jail for the murder of his son. The court found him guilty of culpable homicide. On 17 October 2016, about halfway through his sentence, he was placed on parole. 

From the time he was released on parole to his arrest in 2020, it is alleged that Pangkeaker committed multiple offences, including rape and incest. He allegedly fathered a son with his daughter.  

The deceased’s grandmother, Theresa Manwill, told Mail & Guardian that Tazné’s death left a deep void, and she hoped that justice would prevail.  

The trial resumes on Thursday.

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

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