The parents of Baby T at a previous appearance in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. Picture: Zelda Venter
The parents of Baby T at a previous appearance in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. Picture: Zelda Venter

Parents accused of abusing baby await their fate

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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Pretoria - The Pretoria parents accused of abusing their baby are expected to know their fate this week.

Named Baby T to protect her identity, the child was just 2 months old when she was taken to hospital for the first time with several broken ribs.

She had more than 30 fractures when she were back in hospital three months later.

The mother, 22, and father, 24, are facing child abuse charges as well as an attempted murder charge in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

The prosecution said Baby T was so severely injured by her parents that they should have foreseen that she could have died.

A doctor who examined the baby during her second stint in hospital five months after her premature birth told Judge Hennie de Vos that she feared the worst. Apart from broken bones, ribs, a collarbone and a leg, the child also had a bruise on her face and neck.

Prosecutor Cornelia Harmzen is expected to argue today that the parents knew their baby could have died, yet they continued to abuse her. She will ask for an attempted murder conviction.

The parents, who have since broken up, vehemently denied that they had assaulted their child. Both said they also never witnessed anyone else hurting their child.

The father claimed he did not see his daughter and then girlfriend often, because he lived alone. The mother also did not allow him to care for the baby by himself when they did sleep over at his house, he testified.

But the mother said they mostly stayed with the baby’s father, and that on occasions he did take care of Baby T while she tried to get some sleep.

She said the baby was difficult at times, she cried and would not always drink her bottle.

Neither parent, however, blamed the other or anyone else.

They maintained throughout the trial that they had no idea how the baby suffered all the injuries.

The first time Baby T was admitted to the Eugene Marais Hospital in April last year was because she could not breathe and had turned blue.

X-rays at the time showed numerous old and new fractures her ribs.

Police were alerted and the baby was released into the care of her maternal grandmother. The parents, however, fetched the baby after a few days.

Baby T was again taken to hospital three months later, at the age of 5 months. Doctors said she was in a terrible state and they feared for her life.

They testified they had seldom, if ever, come across such a tiny baby with so many bruises. It is extremely difficult to fracture the bones of babies, they testified, as they were elastic and difficult to break. All agreed a great deal of force must have been used to have caused so much damage to Baby T.

Apart from the fractures and bruises, the doctors also said the baby was underweight and dehydrated.

A family member who had been appointed by the Children’s Court as the child’s guardian, said Baby T was doing very well in her care.

The State and the defence will today present their arguments and judgment is expected later in the week.

The parents, who are on bail, make a point of sitting far apart in the dock. They neither look at, nor speak to, each other. Their break-up came shortly after their arrest when the baby was taken to hospital for the second time.

Pretoria News

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