Abuse probe over Baby X’s sib­ling

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WHILE Baby X’s mother awaits her sen­tence for the mur­der in 2014 of the 3-yearold child, al­le­ga­tions have emerged that her other daugh­ter had been mo­lested at a place of safety.

Dur­ing ar­gu­ments in sen­tenc­ing last week, Judge Mo­hini Mood­ley quizzed so­cial worker Ma­hashni Naidoo about the al­le­ga­tions.

She called for a full re­port on Naidoo’s find­ings into the mo­lesta­tion claims.

Mood­ley said she had made nu­mer­ous en­quiries but the “doors were be­ing shut” on her. She ques­tioned how this had been al­lowed to hap­pen to the 12-year-old.

KZN De­part­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment spokesper­son Ncumisa Ndelu said one of the boys at the place of safety had acted in­ap­pro­pri­ately, and this had been wit­nessed by three girls.

He has since been re­moved from the place of safety.

A spokesper­son at the place of safety said Baby X’s sib­lings were do­ing well. He said all ef­forts were be­ing made to raise them as re­spon­si­ble adults, de­spite the sig­nif­i­cant trauma they had faced.

The con­victed mother, 34, who spoke briefly to on Thurs­day, said she was in­no­cent and prayed for strength in prison.

Baby X died on Novem­ber 20, 2014, due to blunt force trauma to the head and bru­tal child abuse.

“I pray to God and ask him to help me. I did not kill my child. I am in­no­cent.”

She said she was sorry and that she missed her chil­dren. The woman’s name is not be­ing re­vealed to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of her three sur­viv­ing mi­nor chil­dren.

In Septem­ber, she was found guilty of three counts of child abuse, a count of as­sault GBH and fail­ure to pro­vide med­i­cal as­sis­tance, as well as mur­der.

She was also found guilty of two counts of child abuse, fail­ure to pro­vide med­i­cal as­sis­tance and as­sault GBH for her then 11-year-old son, and child abuse of her then 8-year-old daugh­ter. Her other daugh­ter, who was 2 at the time, was spared the abuse.

The mother’s co-ac­cused – the chil­dren’s grand­mother – who had also been stand­ing trial, died in prison in April.

Dur­ing the trial it emerged that Baby X had been burnt with cig­a­rettes on her pri­vate area and other parts of her body, had been bat­tered, had chilli pow­der placed in her nappy, had been bound with rope and de­nied food. Two days be­fore her death, ac­cord­ing to ev­i­dence given by her brother, the grand­mother had throt­tled her be­fore re­peat­edly throw­ing her to the ground. On the fol­low­ing day, the mother had as­saulted her with a high-heeled shoe.

Baby X’s sib­lings were told to mop the blood from the kitchen floor af­ter­wards. That same night, Baby X was bound by her hand and legs to the bed with rope, and a plas­tic packet put over her head. She was de­clared dead the next day.

Dur­ing ar­gu­ments in sen­tenc­ing, the State called com­mu­nity ac­tivist Bran­don Pil­lay to ex­plain the im­pact of the child’s death on the com­mu­nity.

“It was shock­ing. We (com­mu­nity) could not fathom what was hap­pen­ing… how a child could be killed at the hand of some­one sup­posed to take care of them.

“The com­mu­nity was shocked and en­raged that the child’s in­no­cence was taken away,” he said.

Pil­lay, who was in­stru­men­tal in or­gan­is­ing Baby X’s fu­neral, told the court that more than 2000 peo­ple had at­tended.

Judge Mood­ley ques­tioned if Pil­lay had known about the other chil­dren, and that the boy had re­ported the abuse to fam­ily mem­bers, teach­ers and so­cial work­ers who vis­ited the house, but found noth­ing wrong. Pil­lay re­sponded that so­ci­ety had failed the chil­dren.

Dur­ing ar­gu­ments, de­fence ad­vo­cate Mur­ray Pit­man called for a max­i­mum sen­tence of 10 years.

Se­nior state ad­vo­cate Sh­eryl Naidu called for a 25-year jail term.

Sen­tenc­ing is ex­pected on Wed­nes­day.

PIC­TURE: NADIA KHAN

The mother con­victed of abus­ing and killing her daugh­ter, Baby X, main­tains her in­no­cence.

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