December 23 2006 at 09:40AM
Danielle Esterhuizen, 5, wanted a Brat doll for Christmas but she was also looking for a present to buy Jesus. On Wednesday she gave Jesus the ultimate gift, her life.
She died after she was hit by a bullet as she lay cuddled in her mother's arms.
Danielle went fishing at Riebeeck Lake in Randfontein with her father Diederick Esterhuizen, her mother Anel, her brother Andrico and a family friend, Ferdi Kleinhans.
But the trip, which should have been a short night out, turned ugly when four armed robbers opened fire on the group and killed little Danielle.
'I think one life lost is too much, and they can't say that crime has gone down'
As bullets rained on the Esterhuizen family, one hit Danielle in the forehead as she lay in her mother's arms. The bullet first grazed her mother's finger.
Esterhuizen believes he was also hit by the bullets because "my mother-in-law found a bullet hole in my shirt".
Esterhuizen couldn't hold back the tears as he spoke about his little angel.
"I still can't believe I will never see her again. She was such an angel and she wanted to be a star …"
He said he had been working hard to make this Christmas special for his children, and earlier that day, he and Danielle had fixed the pool so that she would be able to swim.
"She was crazy about swimming. We all thought that one day we were going to see her on TV, and I still don't know how this could happen to my little girl."
Esterhuizen can't forgive himself for giving in to his children's nagging on that day.
"I never take them with me to Riebeeck Lake because I know it's dangerous, but this time I thought it's holiday time. I thought I'll just take them out and come back, but I should not have let them come."
Esterhuizen said the only thing he could remember is seeing "one of the men cocking his gun and starting to shoot".
He said he was dreading the day he would have to go back to his Randfontein house, as they are now living with his in-laws.
"I don't want to think about all the presents under the tree or her school things because she was going to Grade 0 and I had bought everything for her. We were so excited that she was a step closer to big school. I don't want to go back to that house, there are too many memories," he said.
Esterhuizen said his wife was too distraught to speak to anybody. "She is devastated because Danielle was in her arms when she was shot."
He said he failed to understand how the government could continue saying crime statistics were down when young, innocent lives were lost to criminals every day.
"I think one life lost is too much, and they can't say that crime has gone down."
Captain Paula Terblanche, spokesperson for the West Rand police, said nobody had been arrested for the murder and members of the South African Police Service were working hard to find the killers.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on December 23, 2006