Johannesburg - A Soweto mother has been convicted of helping and protecting a man who raped her two-month-old baby and for lying to police and doctors to conceal the incident.
Medical examinations concluded that the infant experienced similar injuries as those suffered by women who are victims of female genital mutilation.
The mother stunned the high court in Joburg on Tuesday minutes before the judgment was handed down as she started sniffing and crying from the dock as Judge Carla van Veenendaal went through her ruling, describing the events around the incident and the role the mother played to protect her child’s rapist.
The woman became highly emotional and hysterical when she was asked to stand up to hear her fate. She just shook her head when the court interpreter asked her if she understood her conviction.
The Meadowlands woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her child, is expected to be sentenced next year after she has undergone a psychological assessment, which will be critical for mitigation of her sentence.
She initially faced charges of rape, child abuse, defeating the ends of justice, and of aiding, instructing and commanding someone to commit rape. Judge Veenendaal acquitted her of rape and child abuse.
According to the woman’s evidence and court papers, she and her husband (both Mozambican) had a quarrel in November 2016. The man went into his car while the woman was following him, carrying their infant with a strap on her chest.
The man tried to speed off but the woman grabbed hold of the door and was dragged for a few metres before the car stopped.
A neighbour heard the woman screaming, and when she went to investigate, she found the baby lying on the ground, struggling to breathe.
On closer inspection, they noticed that she was also bleeding from her private parts. The child was then taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, where a doctor examined her.
“The accused’s version of events changed all the time during trial. The doctor said the baby’s injuries were not consistent with her claim that the child fell from the bed to the floor. When the doctor told her that the injuries showed forced penetration to the child’s vagina, the mother again changed her version,” said Judge Veenendaal. The baby had to have emergency reconstructive surgery to her privates parts.
No external injuries were found on the baby to corroborate her mother’s version of events.
The doctor also took two swab samples of the baby’s genitalia and anus, as well as the nappy she wore that night. Semen was found on both samples, but insufficient for the extraction of DNA.
Judge Veenendaal ex- pressed shock that a mother would collude with and even hide the identity of a man who had raped her daughter.
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