Hor­ror abuse of girl, 2, un­folds in high court

Mother says she left child with her boyfriend while she was at work

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ZELDA VEN­TER

AN AMAN­DASIG, Pre­to­ria North, cou­ple are fac­ing charges of at­tempted mur­der and child abuse after the woman’s 2-yearold daugh­ter was al­legedly so badly abused that she is now con­fined to an in­sti­tu­tion, suf­fer­ing from brain dam­age.

The par­ties, who may not be named to pro­tect the child, yes­ter­day de­nied they had laid a fin­ger on the pe­tite, blonde child.

How­ever, pic­tures handed to the High Court in Pre­to­ria re­veal mul­ti­ple bruises across the child’s body.

The 20-year-old mother’s de­fence is that she was at work last De­cem­ber– when the child was in­jured – as she had to fi­nan­cially pro­vide for her child.

She said she left Baby L in the care of her 37-year-old boyfriend, who in turn claimed the child fell twice – once off a wash­ing ma­chine and the sec­ond time down the stairs of their sec­ond­floor flat.

The State claims the child was at some stage cov­ered in bruises and the ac­cused usu­ally cov­ered this up with clothes so no­body could see it.

Baby L was taken to Steve Biko Aca­demic Hos­pi­tal in Pre­to­ria two days after Christ­mas, vom­it­ing and seem­ingly with con­cus­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to the State, the ac­cused was told by a neu­ro­sur­geon to wait as he wanted to dis­cuss a scan of the child with the cou­ple, but they al­legedly left be­fore the child could be treated.

The child was rushed to the Aka­sia Clinic three days later after she had a seizure. She was then ad­mit­ted to Steve Biko Aca­demic Hos­pi­tal, where it was es­tab­lished that she had bruises across her body and that both her kid­neys and pan­creas were se­verely in­jured.

The child was also di­ag­nosed with se­vere brain dam­age.

The ac­cused were sub­se­quently ar­rested.

The mother is out on bail and her boyfriend is in jail await­ing trial.

In her plea ex­pla­na­tion, the mother de­nied that she al­lowed any­one to hurt her child. She said her boyfriend once phoned her at work to tell her the child had fallen off the wash­ing ma­chine. They took the child to hos­pi­tal, but the doc­tor said it was a mild con­cus­sion and gave them Panado syrup.

Three days later, she was told the child had fallen down the stairs, but her co-ac­cused as­sured her the child was fine.

In his de­fence, the boyfriend said he and Baby L were very close and he took care of her while the mother was at work.

His sis­ter, iden­ti­fied only as Awie-Marie, tes­ti­fied she and her mother went to fetch her brother on De­cem­ber 30 to take him to the shops. He walked down to­wards their car with Baby L on his hip. “She seemed happy and was eat­ing a snack.”

The wit­ness said the child, who was in potty train­ing at that stage, had wet her­self. She told her brother, who took Baby L back up­stairs. AwieMarie tes­ti­fied she could hear her brother shout­ing at the child.

He later came down alone and said a neigh­bour, who is a so­cial worker, was with Baby L as she had soiled her­self and was bathing.

They later re­turned from the shops. On her way home, she re­ceived a mes­sage from her brother, who said the child had had a seizure.

They went back to his flat where she tried to re­sus­ci­tate the child, but she did not re­spond. Awie-Marie said they rushed the child to Aka­sia Clinic, where she no­ticed bruises on the child.

The neigh­bour tes­ti­fied she did not know the child and only saw her through the safety door of their flat. She de­nied that she ever babysat the child, as claimed by the man.

The State said it would call a host of med­i­cal ex­perts this week to tes­tify re­gard­ing the child’s in­juries.

She fell off the wash­ing ma­chine and down stairs of sec­ond-floor flat

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