Pretoria - Broken ribs, a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, a punctured pancreas and kidney, severe bruising all over her body and suspected brain damage – these are injuries allegedly inflicted on a two-year-old girl by her mother’s boyfriend.
While the father of the toddler keeps a vigil at her bedside in the Steve Biko Academic Hospital’s intensive care unit, the child’s mother, 20, and her partner, 36, will be appearing in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court on Monday on a charge of attempted murder.
Social networks have been flooded with requests for prayers for the rosy-cheeked toddler Pretoria News is referring to as Baby L because, under the law, she may not be identified.
She has been unconscious since being admitted to hospital a week ago.
Details of how she came to be injured are not known, but her father said a doctor had told him it was impossible for her to have received them falling down the stairs, as the boyfriend claimed had happened.
Concerned doctors also called in the police.
On the day Baby L was admitted to hospital, the sister and mother of the boyfriend picked him and the child up from their home to take them to the shops while Baby L’s mother was at work. The sister said they were not allowed into the child’s home.
“(Baby L) soiled herself as we were about to leave. He got angry and took her back inside the house despite my offering to change her,” said the sister, who is a pediatric nurse. “He said a neighbour, who was a social worker, would clean the child.
“I was uncomfortable leaving her at home, but he insisted and said the child’s mother and gran were a few minutes away.” The three left before the mother arrived.
The sister said she dropped her brother off at home about half an hour later. “A few minutes later my brother called back to say the child was unconscious. We rushed back and he threw her in my arms, ice cold and soaking wet. I did CPR all the way to Akasia Hospital,” she said.
She said she thought the child was dead as she was unresponsive, but eventually she got a weak pulse. She said her brother came up with several stories as to how the child suffered the injuries, but she was convinced it was at his hands.
“He has two other kids who are afraid of him. They don’t want to visit him or be alone with him. The injuries the toddler has are not from falling down stairs. He told us another story before his arrest.”
She said her brother was not kind to Baby L, and would swear and shout at her. “The few occasions we saw them, he was really not nice.”
Asked how Baby L came to be unconscious, he told his sister the toddler had soiled herself again and he had sent her to the bathroom to clean herself. “He said when he got to the bathroom she was on the floor unconscious, so he slapped her twice. He threw water on her, but she did not respond, then he called us. How can you do that to a baby?”
Baby L’s father claimed the toddler’s mother had started using drugs because of her boyfriend.
“I asked her to stop, but she denied it. Numerous times I asked her to let me see my child, but she’d always have some story. I begged her to let me have the child for the holidays, but she didn’t want to – now this is how I get my child.
“I don’t know if my child is going to make it, or what the future is going to be like because the doctors say there has been some brain damage.
“No words can describe this pain. How can a father see his child like this?” he said, showing a picture of his bruised daughter attached to tubes and with stitches down her stomach.
“I’ll make sure they pay for this. They will stay in jail for ever for what they have done. The mother might not have been there on the day of these injuries, but doctors say there are old wounds and bruises. She must have seen it, why didn’t she say anything?” he said, tears welling up.
Another worry was that he had received threats from the boyfriend. He had reported these to the police.
Police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale said it was alleged the child was left with the boyfriend on December 16 and injured. On December 27 he was looking after her again when she allegedly fell off a washing machine and was taken to hospital for treatment. On December 31 she collapsed and was taken to hospital.
Mogale said the doctor called the police as some of the injuries were old and had not been reported. The mother and boyfriend were arrested.