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Kerry-Ann Smit.

Surviving a butcher – A family’s trauma, tragedy shared

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The story of Kerry-Ann Smit’s family is not a happy one, but testimony to the human spirit surviving against all odds. It is a narration that reminds of one of the most horrific crimes Polokwane has ever witnessed. Her recollections of the eldest of her three daughters falling victim to an attacker identified as the much feared Hammer Monster speak of a bloody attack that left her child with scars from lethal hammer blows to the head, strangulation and bite marks as well as rape.
David Mamvura, a Zimbabwean national is in detention on 40 charges of violent crimes ranging from attempted murder to burglary, that include the vicious assault on her then 20-year-old daughter in Eduan Park in the early hours of 16 October 2011.
Having worked through the happenings, they have managed to rise above the tragedy and life truths that confronted them along the way to recovery. The only hint of anger detected in Smit’s voice is when she speaks of the injustices of the judicial system being held hostage by an illegal immigrant, who has seemingly been granted access to rights like counsel by the Constitution while in prison courtesy the South African taxpayer. She likens the delay in process to the victims being held against their will in more than 30 alleged attacks across the province. As far as could be established the court matter has repeatedly been postponed for the accused to obtain the services of a different lawyer. He is expected back in court again in April next year.
She warns that the tragedy didn’t stop with the attack on her daughter, whose name is being withheld. In the aftermath thereof their family was subjected to the unavailability of medical practitioners in private healthcare reluctant to treat a rape victim that morning despite having access to top notch medical aid, a local psychologist making Smit out to be a sinner by laying blame on her and long-time friends of theirs gaining from the situation for the sake of sensation and own benefit, she remarks in conversation with Polo­kwane Observer.
She only has praise though for the exemplary service received from the Police officials working on the case, she says while distinctly recalling an endearing female touch reserved for her and words of encouragement from the six or seven detectives sympathising with her husband. The same counted for the support from the owner of the company from whom they rented the property at the time while the purchase of their house was being finalised, she mentions. Her memories of what happened trail back to around 03:00 on the fateful day when she awoke of banging sounds against doors in the passage and blood everywhere. In a daze, suspected to have been caused by tranquillising chemicals that rendered the rest of the family unconscious during the attack and still having side-effects two weeks after, she established that the noises were attributed to her daughter attempting to attract their attention after being attacked. She discovered her tied up, naked and covered in blood.
She remembers how her child broke the news by saying “Daddy, Daddy he raped me”. All along blood was oozing from her head wounds, resulting in two prominent scars and lesions around her skull after seven to nine suspected brutal blows allegedly aimed at killing her. Her upper body also bore testimony to the suspect allegedly repeatedly attempting to bite chunks of flesh from her shoulder area, Smit stresses.
It was learnt that the blood trail stretched from the girl’s bedroom on the other side of the house, where she was attacked and only her valuables taken while certain items were moved around specifically in the rooms occupied by the parents and one of their younger twin girls while they were asleep.
Smit believes that the accused couldn’t have been alone, as it would have been impossible for him to leave the house with a big plasma television set allegedly stolen from her daughter’s room along with the remote, her watch and cell phone.
According to Smit the attacker warned her daughter against raising alarm, promising that he was going to kill her parents. Hence her daughter took the brunt of the attack on behalf of the family to save them, an emotional Smit stresses. “She protected me while I was sleeping and afterwards by saying ‘Mommy, you don’t need to know’”.
She mentions that to date her daughter has always protected her by not telling her what she had gone through, while she in turn had to keep the family together. In hindsight she wouldn’t have been able to cope with the details, she says. Smit describes her daughter as a strong young woman with phenomenal inner strength and the ability to control the anger and the heart sore, in order to move on, rise above the bad of the past and emerge a survivor.
Smit refers to the accused by his first name only, reiterating that he is playing with the country’s judicial system the way he played the manipulation game in their house that day. “I survived him. My family survived him and whoever was in the house with him. He won’t take anything away from me. I won’t allow him.”
Theirs is after all not an unhappy story, but of a family who had to look past the tragedy and the trauma, come out braver and changed people who now only focus on the important things in life and contemplate solutions instead. Like beefing up security, not sleeping with open windows any more and having dogs in the house at night.
All because of the suspected actions of one man, who is referred to as a monster armed with a hammer.

Survivor stories
This is the first interview in our Survivor Stories series, depicting the horrors of crimes committed against humanity. With it we will endeavour to give the account of survivors of crime to tell the stories that sometimes go untold.

Story: YOLANDE NEL
>>observer.yolande@gmail.com