Pretoria - A 29-year-old Pretoria man was jailed for life on Thursday for abusing and killing his three-week-old stepson.
The High Court in Pretoria sentenced Christiaan “Chris” Oldewage to life imprisonment for murder of his wife Juanita's baby son Stiaan two years ago. He was given another two years imprisonment for child abuse and declared unfit to work with children.
Oldewage insisted throughout his trial the baby had been well when he went to bed that night and that he did not know how the child had sustained a fractured skull, 16 rib fractures, and internal injuries.
Juanita Oldewage committed suicide in August by hanging herself.
The baby was already in a coma and not breathing when he was admitted to Pretoria's Montana hospital on the night of December 12, 2011, where doctors battled in vain to save his life.
The doctor who treated the baby and a pathologist testified that severe blunt force and pressure was necessary to cause a baby's bones to break.
The child's great-grandmother and a police constable testified that they had seen deep scratch marks on the baby's face and upper body when he was about a week-and-a-half old.
Judge Bert Bam said the defenceless baby was badly abused and sustained extensive injuries. The evidence indicated the baby had already been abused before he sustained the injuries which caused his death.
Bam said Oldewage did not want to tell the truth about what had happened and never showed any remorse. There was no evidence that he had been so drunk that night that he did not know what he was doing.
The only reasonable conclusion was that Oldewage deliberately killed baby Stiaan. The baby was in the care of Oldewage and his wife. Though he was not the baby's biological father he had accepted parental responsibility for him.
Bam said the aggravating factors in the case were so severe that the prescribed sentence of 15 years was not fitting. Only life imprisonment would be appropriate.