Pretoria - One would probably not find a worse kind of child abuse. It was so bad the baby died, a Pretoria High Court judge said when he on Wednesday convicted the stepfather of three-and-a-half-weeks-old Stian Oldewage of murder and child abuse.
The State said the infant must have endured immense pain while being bashed to death, but Judge Bert Bam said one could infer the violence was of such force that the baby immediately lost consciousness.
Killer Christiaan (Chris) Oldewage did not show any apparent emotion as he was convicted of murdering and abusing his stepson.
Baby Stian’s grandmother and great-aunt cried bitterly after the verdict. Great-grandmother, Dorothea Engelbrecht, the granny of the child’s mother, said her only consolation was that the baby probably did not suffer for too long.
“I am just happy this has come to a point where the judge said Chris murdered the baby and that I now know for sure it is him. I’m not denying the guilt of my granddaughter (Juanita Oldewage), but she is not here to say what happened.
Juanita Oldewage committed suicide by hanging herself in August. The judge found she probably knew her child was being battered.
How Baby Stian was bashed or assaulted will never be known, as Oldewage insisted he did not lift a finger towards the infant and that a few hours before his death on December 13, 2011, in the Montana Hospital, he was a happy baby.
But by the time the baby got to hospital, he was dying.
A doctor testified the injuries had been inflicted with one act of extreme force within 24 hours of death. Stian had 16 broken ribs, a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, and bleeding in one kidney and lung. One of his testicles was also injured.
Oldewage was convicted on circumstantial evidence, but the judge noted only he, the child’s mother and brother, 11, were there on the day the baby was assaulted. Oldewage said he did not think it was his wife or the brother. “The only reasonable inference is it is accused (Oldewage).
“His version of blaming the cat and that nothing was wrong with the baby that evening is so improbable it is a lie. He killed the baby.” The judge also voiced his displeasure at a cop who a week before the child’s death was called to the house and did nothing when he noticed scratch marks all over the baby’s face and body. “He failed in his duty… this probably resulted in the baby’s death.”
The defence called for mercy in sentencing.
But the judge said Stian was a defenceless baby and he “may even consider a life sentence”, while the State called for 25 years. “The brutality on a defenceless baby deserves nothing less,” it said. Oldewage will be sentenced on Thursday.