Pretoria - The father of a severely injured infant, known as Baby T, claimed he never had any contact alone with the child as the mother was “incredibly protective over the baby.”
The child had bout 31 fractures all over her body when she was admitted to hospital at the age of five months,
The 24-year-old man and his now-former girlfriend are facing an array of charges, including attempted murder, child abuse as well as neglect.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
Several doctors, who examined the child on the two occasions in which she landed in hospital, earlier testified that they were horrified and shocked that a small child like that had so many fractures.
They all testified how difficult it was to break a baby’s bones, as they are flexible at that age. They also agreed that a great amount of force must have been used to break the child’s bones.
The little girl was barely two months old when she was admitted to hospital for the first time in April last year as she could not breathe. X-rays revealed a host of broken ribs on both sides of her body, both old and new.
By the time Baby T went to hospital again in July last year, she had several more broken bones – also both old and new. She also had soft tissue injuries to her face and neck.
In taking the stand first yesterday in defence of the charges, the father said he noticed no injuries on the baby, except for a blue mark in her face.
The mother claimed the doctor who earlier gave the child inoculations on her legs caused the mark. Confronted with this yesterday, the father laughed and said it was definitely not the doctor who was, in fact, very gentle with the child.
He could not explain how the child was injured, as he said he and his now- former girlfriend did not live together. He said she did sleep over at his house on rare occasions with the baby, but she never allowed him to care for her on his own.
He told Judge Hennie de Vos that while Father’s Day last year was his first such event. He asked the mother whether he could take the baby along with him, she had refused.
According to him, he and the child’s mother met each other about a year before her birth.
He thought they had a lot in common at the time, as she told him her mother had died of cancer. His father was at the time dying of cancer.
However, he said, it turned out she had lied; the mother is still alive today. He said this was the start of many lies she had told him.
She often stayed over in the house which he shared with his mother, but the latter threw her out of the house when it was discovered that she had smoked dagga there.
The man said he then also moved, and he found a place to stay. But the contract was clear that he had to stay alone. His then-girlfriend only came over from time to time.
The same applied after the baby was born, he said; he did not see his child very often.
The father recalled the time when the baby went to hospital on the first occasion at two months of age.
He said the mother and baby slept over at his home for a few nights when the baby suddenly stopped breathing.
He applied mouth to mouth resuscitation before they rushed the baby to hospital. It was on this occasion when doctors detected numerous fractures to the child’s ribs, but the father said he knew nothing about this.
Shortly prior to the second occasion when the baby landed up in hospital with even more fractures, the mother and child also stayed over at the father’s house for a few days. Yet, the father said he noticed nothing unusual about the baby at the time.
“The mother was the prime caregiver and she made all the decisions regarding the baby. I never spent a single minute alone with the baby.
“I would never harm my baby, nor was I aware of anyone who harmed her. I loved my child, and I would never allow anyone to harm her,” the father testified.
The mother is expected to take the stand today.