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Johannesburg - A short-tempered father who would throw chairs in fits of anger and who once broke a broom in rage. An exhausted mother battling to deal with a constantly crying baby, screaming at her and slapping her on her cheek in frustration.
This is the picture of the parents of baby Samantha* that emerged on Tuesday in the Johannesburg High Court sitting at the Protea Magistrate’s Court.
The infant died a horrific death after allegedly being subjected to long-term abuse.
The little girl died at home. An autopsy revealed that not only was she “significantly underweight”, but she had numerous injuries.
She had fractured ribs; abrasions on her vagina, cheeks, chest, nose and lip; bruising on the abdomen; and a lacerated lung that was filled with blood.
Her liver was also injured and there were signs of repeated sexual assault.
Samantha’s parents said they never spotted these injuries on their daughter.
They have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape, sexual assault, child abuse and assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm.
With tears running down her face, Samantha’s 34-year-old mother said she never harmed her daughter, save once, when she slapped her.
She said although her 37-year-old boyfriend had a “short fuse”, she never saw him harming their daughter.
Recalling the events of March 2 last year, the day Samantha died, the woman said the infant had been struggling to breathe. Her condition worsened, and when she tapped her on the back, she vomited.
The woman said she left Samantha alone and went to a neighbour and asked to use their phone to call her boyfriend. She said she did not call the paramedics because his was the only number she could think of at the time.
When she returned, Samantha was unresponsive.
“I took her out of the pram and did CPR… Her eyes were closed. I tried to wake her, and she was not waking up.”
The prosecutor, advocate Riana Williams, accused the woman of murdering her child.
“I did not cause the death of my child. If there’s anything I’m guilty of, it’s failing to notice the pain she was in,” she said.
Williams pressed on: “You were the mother of the deceased, you looked after her, you cared for her, how could you not have noticed her injuries?”
The woman responded: ”I did take care of my child in the best way I could. Clearly something was wrong with the doctors and me, hence we missed the injuries.”
The accused’s lawyers said the State had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that their clients had anything to do with what happened to Samantha.
Judgment is expected on Thursday.
* Not her real name.