Pietermaritzburg - A young KwaZulu-Natal mother who admitted killing her seven-month-old daughter with a bread knife, has claimed she is sorry, saying she loved her baby.
Nompumelelo Nyati, 18, a Grade 10 pupil from Paulpietersburg, was testifying in mitigation of sentence before Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.
She had pleaded guilty to murder by stabbing her daughter, Aphiwe, in the chest on May 2.
In a written plea earlier this month, Nyati said that she had killed her daughter because she was too poor to care for her on her own, after the father and his family had refused to assist her.
On the day of the murder, she had approached them for help and was again turned away, she claimed.
Nyati said she had received a child state grant of R300 a month from December until February, after which it had stopped.
“I was residing with my grandmother at the time and we were not on speaking terms as I could not contribute to the household,” she said.
“I was sleeping in my grandmother’s kitchen and due to the financial hardships at home, I ate at my friend’s place.”
Nyati said in the plea statement that upon arriving at her home after being turned away by the baby’s father’s family, she placed the child on the ground and found a bread knife.
“I stabbed Aphiwe once in the chest. She cried.”
She said she then went to a neighbouring homestead where she reported what she had done.
However, during her testimony in mitigation of sentence on Friday, she said she was not aware that she had stabbed the baby until after she had committed the act and Aphiwe started crying.
“I loved my baby a lot. I don’t know how it (the murder) happened. I am very sorry about what I did,” Nyati said.
Nyati, a pupil at Muziyesizwe High School in Dumbe, admitted that she had suffered behavioural problems after her parents divorced.
When she began dating the father of her child, her relationship with her mother deteriorated, she said.
“My mother did not approve of the relationship because I was too young. But I did not listen.”
After she fell pregnant, her mother turned her away and she went to live with her grandmother.
Nyati denied allegations that she had an aggressive personality and had previously threatened to kill her younger brother, or that she abused alcohol and dagga.
Her advocate, Pauline Andrews, submitted that it was clear that Nyati had been raised in a dysfunctional family and that the poverty and pressure she was under after her baby was born, had overwhelmed her.
Prosecutor Fran van Heerden argued that Nyati had killed a defenceless baby. “What makes this more horrific is that this child was killed by her own mother.”
Judge Poyo-Dlwati is expected to pass sentence on July 16.