He talks in a deep tone in Afrikaans to his mother and says: “Just talk and I’ll kill you.”
While these words shock onlookers in the corridors of the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court, Bridget van Ballo says she hears them every day.
Her son, 18-year-old Leeroshe, is a tik addict who lives with her in her Eastridge home. But, on Tuesday, Van Ballo came to court seeking a restraining order against him - her seventh case against him in the past few years.
Leeroshe started using drugs at 12, she says, and has tormented his mother ever since, demanding money daily and stealing anything from her house to feed his habit.
Slouching in baggy pants and takkies, Leeroshe appears brazen, apathetic and refuses to appear in court.
Van Ballo says her son lost all respect for anyone when he started using drugs like dagga, mandrax and tik before dropping out of school in Grade 6. He walks up and down the court building, jittery, telling his mother: “Withdraw the case, I want to leave here. I am not going in.”
But Van Ballo refuses, telling everyone around her: “I’ve had enough of him, he must get locked up. I don’t care anymore. I am tired of going through this. I am going to kill this child if this court does not help me.”
Leeroshe leaves the building saying he won’t come back, but is warned that a warrant for his arrest will be issued. After some time he returns and while waiting he continuously tells his mother and two neighbours who have come with her: “Ek isie bang nie, ek gaan julle vrek skiet (I am not scared, I am going to shoot you all dead).”
He threatens them in hushed tones but can still be heard by a few people nearby.
A court official later reprimands him for disrespecting the older people and orders security to take him into a holding cell.
Van Ballo has previously taken her son to court for charges including intimidation, assault, house robbery and damage to property.
He has been thrown out of numerous houses of safety where staff had been unable to handle him or he has run away. Last year he spent almost three months in Pollsmoor Prison for a theft case Van Ballo made against him. At the time, he was 17 and this was the only period since the age of 12 that he was not using drugs, she says.
Before going into Pollsmoor, Leeroshe swore he was done with drugs and his friends. Two days after he was released, things went missing from Van Ballo’s house again.
“I want him out of my house. I want him locked up. I lock him out but he smashes windows and breaks in. What more must I do? The court needs to help me,” Van Ballo said.
After about three hours at court, the prosecutor calls Van Ballo and her son in to discuss the options of punishment and rehabilitation.
When he curses his mother and neighbours in the corridors, he speaks Afrikaans with a threatening attitude. But when speaking to the prosecutor, his tone becomes compliant, gentle and he speaks English in a calm manner.
When the prosecutor suggests he goes for rehabilitation on a Nicro programme, Leeroshe replies: “Yes, Miss, I would like that. I will go to Nicro classes.”
The other option for Leeroshe is a suspended sentence, which means he will go back home, but if any other charge is brought against him he will go to prison immediately. “I want him to be locked up, so this horror can stop, but not even Pollsmoor scared him,” Van Ballo said.
However, the head prosecutor later ruled Nicro out as an option and told Van Ballo that she had been through enough with her son. A stronger sentence was needed, she said.
When it was their turn to appear in court for sentencing, Leeroshe had disappeared.
As promised, a warrant for his arrest was issued. ”He is actually doing me a favour because now there is a warrant so he will be arrested,” says Van Ballo. “I know it sounds horrible for a mother, but I can’t go through this anymore.”
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