A COUPLE accused of killing their 4-month-old baby will stand trial in the high court, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Monday.
NPA spokesperson in North West, Henry Mamothame, said the couple appeared in the Klerksdorp Magistrate's Court on a charge of murder and five counts of contravening the Children’s Act, following the death of their baby who allegedly died of complications of malnutrition.
"Their case was postponed to March 11 for a high court date. Advocate Riekie Kraus registered the State’s intention to transfer the matter to the High Court of South Africa; the North West Division.
“The State is expected to serve the accused with an indictment and a bail court date will be decided following that process," he said.
Seun Joubert, 44, and Isabelle Francis, 35, of Alabama near Klerksdorp were said to have stayed together for 15 years and have two boys aged 2 and 5, as well as two girls aged 8 and 13.
"It is alleged that in May last year, Francis was arrested for assaulting her 2-year-old boy but was later released as she was breastfeeding the now-dead baby at the time.
“Police reported the incident to the North West department of social development for social workers to intervene. That intervention led to the four children being placed under the care of their maternal grandmother," he said.
In September last year, Francis was arrested again for assaulting her 13-year-old daughter at her mother’s house.
"She allegedly hit her with clenched fists, and kicked her before throwing her on the ground and stomping her afterwards. She went on to assault her mother.
“Police investigations into this assault led them to the discovery of the 4-month-old baby having died on August 13, 2021, in Klerksdorp hospital.
"This information was declared by Leon Francis, the uncle of Isabelle Francis. These investigations further led to the discovery that in June 2021 Francis forcefully took back her two sons from her mother to stay with her and Joubert.
“The uncle alleges to have reported this incident to the designated social worker, who in turn promised to do house visits to the accused.
“A report from the social worker indicates that on August 9, 2021, he took some groceries to the house of the accused, and found the 2-year-old boy in a bad state of health, with sores all over his face.
“He went back the following day and to his shock, the couple had left the 4-month-old baby by herself, lying on the bed without a blanket.
“The report further states the baby looked emaciated, the social worker then rushed to collect his wife to assist him with the baby before taking him home with them.
"On August 10, 2021, the social worker and his wife took the baby to Klerksdorp hospital where she was immediately admitted, but sadly she died three days later. The attending paediatrician confirmed that she died of complications due to malnutrition.
“Police investigations and an assessment of two of the children by forensic social workers have been completed," Mamothame said.
Francis and Joubert were arrested in September and October 2021 respectively and were both charged with murder and five other counts.
The court has denied them bail and they would remain in custody until the completion of the trial. | IOL