Justice for Baby X at last
The child’s official cause of death was “blunt force trauma following fatal child abuse”.
The 34-year-old Chatsworth woman was found guilty in the Durban High Court of 16 charges, including murder, child abuse, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and failing to provide medical care.
Baby X, who is not being named to protect the identities of her siblings who also suffered abuse, died in November, 2014 and her mother and grandmother were arrested shortly after.
Earlier this year, Baby X’s 53-year-old grandmother died in prison.
At issue in the mother’s case was whether she had the mental capacity to understand her actions were wrong, as a mental assessment confirmed that she, despite being an adult, functions at the level of a teenager.
The court convicted the mother of murder on the basis of “dolus eventualis” in that she, even with the mind of a teenager, should have foreseen that her vicious assault of Baby X could result in her death.
The child’s death caused an uproar in the Chatsworth community and protests were held at several of the women’s court appearances.
Councillor and community activist Brandon Pillay said the mother’s conviction was a victory for the community, many of whom attended her court appearances, calling for the woman to pay for her crimes.
“I am really pleased that the matter has reached finality, and it is a victory for the community who gave Baby X a voice,” he said.
Pillay said he was concerned during the last few court appearances when the mother attempted to pass responsibility for the crimes on to the late grandmother.
“I hope she gets a lengthy sentence,” Pillay said.
Director of the Phoenix Child Welfare Aroona Chetty said although it had taken a long time, justice was served yesterday. She said she could not bear to describe the extent of abuse Baby X had suffered at the hands of her mother and grandmother.
“I hope this serves as a lesson to all those who abuse children. I hope she gets a life sentence,” Chetty said.
The case has been adjourned for sentencing. Additional reporting by Jolene Marriah Maharaj and Nadia Khan