“I took good care of my baby. I have no idea how she had suffered multiple fractures, the mother of Baby T told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
Baby T is said to have been critically ill, emaciated and presented with at least 31 fractures across her body when she landed in hospital at five months.
Asked about a blue bruise on the baby’s face when she was admitted to hospital and who could have done it, the mother responded: “I cannot tell you. I have no idea.”
She took the stand in defence of various charges levelled against her and the child’s father, including attempted murder and child neglect.
Baby T, who was prematurely born at the age of 31 weeks in February last year, for the first time ended up in hospital in April last year, when she was two months-old.
The now estranged couple rushed her to hospital after she had stopped breathing. X-Rays done on the baby showed that at that stage she had multiple rib fractures - both old and new.
The doctor alerted the police, who then arrested the couple.
The baby was discharged into the care of the maternal grandmother for a few weeks, but as nothing came of the charges against the couple, they fetched her.
Barely two months later, Baby T landed in hospital again. This time her condition was much worse. The doctor on duty earlier testified that she feared for the worse, as the baby had rapidly lost weight, she was dehydrated and she was in a terrible shape.
X-Rays and scans showed that this time she presented with at least 31 fractures across her body - including her collarbone and upper leg.
She also had soft tissue injuries to her neck and face.
The couple were once again arrested and granted bail on condition that they may not see the baby. Baby T was placed in the care of the mother’s sister, who this week testified that the child is now well adjusted and doing well.
The father this week testified that he hardly ever saw the baby as he and the mother did not live together. He said she on occasions slept over at his house with the child, but he never took care of the infant alone.
The mother painted a different picture, as she took the stand. She told Judge Hennie De Vos that she mostly stayed with the child’s father and only on occasions stayed over at her father’s home.
The 22-year-old mother said she and her then boyfriend, 24, were both “very scared” when they discovered she was pregnant, as they did not know how to handle the situation.
Baby T remained in hospital for nearly a month after she was prematurely born, but after her discharge the three of them lived together.
The baby ended up in hospital for the first time on April 3 last year, after the mother noticed the child struggling to breath and that she later turned blue. According to her the baby was fine up to then and she did not notice anything wrong.
She claimed that the evening before the baby presented with breathing problems, the father took care of the child while she was sleeping.
When the baby struggled to breath the next morning, the father “patted” her on the back in an attempt to improve the breathing. When that did not help, they took her to hospital.
Asked by her advocate if she knew anything about the broken ribs at the time, the mother said the doctors told her about it, but she had no idea how it happened.
After the baby was discharged, she stayed with the granny but they went to fetch her about two weeks later.
According to the mother she did well, drank well and was in general a happy baby.
This, she said, was up to July 9, after the baby stayed at her sister’s home for a night. “When she returned, she was not the same baby.”
The mother said she noticed the next day something was wrong with the child’s eye and she could not breath. The child was again taken to hospital where more than 31 fractures were found.