Durban - A mother who killed her newborn daughter by strangling her and then forcing a facecloth down her throat has been sentenced to 15 years in jail.
Krishnandi Govindsamy, 30, who pleaded not guilty to the killing on March 26, was this week found guilty and sentenced by magistrate Fariedha Mohamed at the Durban Magistrate’s Court.
Govindsamy, a cashier at a butchery, strangled her baby girl with a T-shirt on the night she gave birth in the bathroom of her Mayville home.
She placed the body in a plastic bag, put the bag in the bedroom cupboard, and went to sleep.
According to the plea documents Govindsamy said the baby, which she had named Tamia van Wyk, died shortly after being born on June 24, 2010.
Chilling details from the autopsy report included: “The body was of a female newborn with an orange facecloth in the mouth – 65mm of one edge was present in the oral cavity with tongue displaced upwards. A cream-coloured twisted cloth (which) appeared to be a child’s T-shirt was around the neck with a single knot. The neck appeared wrinkled and skin was compressed.”
In mitigation of sentence defence attorney Anesh Maharaj submitted that the accused was a 30-year-old mother of three who was a first-time offender.
He said: “She was involved in her children’s lives. She has only a Grade 11 education and is currently suspended at work because of the media attention that the case has received.”
Maharaj said that the court should consider that Govindsamy had no emotional support during her pregnancy because her husband, Nathan van Wyk, was involved in drugs.
State prosecutor Calvin Govender said: “It is every pregnant mother’s dream to hear their baby’s first cry, but in this case the mother shoved a facecloth down the baby’s throat.
“This is nothing but a barbaric and brutal act.”
Govender said many women struggled to conceive and Govindsamy could have made arrangements to put her baby up for adoption.
“What will society say if we send her back into society?
“The accused is a coward because she murdered a helpless and defenceless innocent child who had only lived a few hours on this Earth,” said Govender.
Handing down sentence Mohamed said murder was considered a serious offence in South Africa and could not be taken lightly.
“Your actions were premeditated because you could have made prior arrangements to have someone care for the baby.
“You used a cloth and a T-shirt to strangle the baby, which means that you thought about what you were doing.”
She said Govindsamy’s actions were abhorrent and outrageous.
“The interest of society far outweighs your personal circumstances and your incarceration will not affect your children, because you are not the primary caregiver.
“Their father is.”
Govindsamy’s mother walked out of the courtroom with tears in her eyes.
Moganambal Govindsamy, 50, said: “The sentence was too harsh. It is wrong because she was planning to take the kids from their father and look after them herself. I am devastated.
“My daughter told me that she did not mean to do it.”