File picture: Independent Media
Pretoria – A judge on Monday commented that the anguish the child must have felt while being beaten by the convicted 35-year-old man could only be imagined.

He was sentencing a Mamelodi East man to an effective 10 years' imprisonment for beating the child to death for soiling himself.

William Tjiane was sentenced on a charge of culpable homicide following the death of little Tebetso Phahle during 2010.

He was also given an additional five years for failing to obtain medical assistance for the child. The sentences will run concurrently, resulting in a 10-year effective sentence.

Tjiane lost his temper with the child as he had to clean him. The court found that he lacked direct intention to kill him but he was negligent when he assaulted the child to the extent that the boy suffered brain injuries. He also had bruises across his body.

Tebetso’s mother Elizabeth left the child in the care of Tjiane as she went for a job interview. He was supposed to take the child to crèche.

When the mother came back, she found her naked and dying child on the bed. She rushed him to hospital but he died soon afterwards.

Little Tebetso was a happy boy when his mother left him in the care of her boyfriend that morning, and he was excited to spend the 50 cents she gave him, on chips he wanted to buy at school.

Elizabeth Phahle said she gave her son breakfast and she left while he was eating. Tjiane was still in bed and later fell asleep, while the boy was in the house.

Tjiane said when he woke up, he saw the child had soiled himself and he placed him in a tub of water, intending to clean him.

He went outside to fetch more water and when he came back, he saw the child had fallen out of the tub.

Tjiane said he only saw a bump on the child’s head and he noticed that he struggled to breathe. 

He forced milk down the boy’s throat and told him to sleep, before he left the house. He claimed he did not know what to do and awaited the mother's return.

The mother rushed her son to hospital when she got home but he died a few hours later.

She told the court that she blamed herself for leaving the child with Tjiane. According to her, not a day goes by without her thinking of her beloved little boy.

Judge Neil Tuchten, in sentencing Tjiane on Monday, made it clear she was a good mother who was not at fault. “I can only hope this judgment will bring some comfort to her.”

The judge said the pain Tjiane caused to the mother and family members was very deep.

Elizabeth left her son in the care of a man she trusted, as she went for a job interview to take care of them. Tjiane was unemployed at the time.

“She did the best for her little boy. She could do no more,” the judge said in describing how she rushed him to hospital.

Regarding Tjiane’s actions, the judge said that he did not believe him to be a wicked man, but rather a good man who gave in to wicked ways.

He said Tjiane was angry when he had to clean the child, but commented that he is not the first parent to feel despondent when confronted with such a situation.

The judge said Tjiane did not show any remorse, nor did he take any responsibility. He insisted up to now that he did nothing wrong.

Pretoria News