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Sentencing in child abuse case postponed after dad complains about social worker’s report

The parents convicted of assaulting their 5-month-old daughter will return to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on March 1 for sentencing. Picture: Zelda Venter

The parents convicted of assaulting their 5-month-old daughter will return to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on March 1 for sentencing. Picture: Zelda Venter

Published Dec 7, 2021

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Pretoria - The sentencing procedures of the parents convicted of assaulting their 5-month-old daughter were postponed after the father complained about the contents of a social worker report regarding him.

The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria earlier convicted the 22-year-old mother and 24-year-old father and called for a social worker’s report and several others before considering their sentence.

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Counsel for the father told Judge Hennie de Vos yesterday that while the mother had the opportunity to look at the report regarding her and to rectify what she considered to be incorrect facts, the father never had such.

The court was told that the father did not agree with everything stated by the social worker in the report, nor did he agree with the findings and recommendations.

It was said that the father wanted to also call his own expert to give input to the court regarding his background and related facts.

It is not yet known what the contents of the reports are, as the court will only deal with it when the separated couple is back in court on March 1.

The parents, who may not be identified as a young child is involved, earlier denied any knowledge of how the now 18-month-old child dubbed Baby L suffered about 33 fractures by the time she was five months.

The prosecution yesterday said it was ready to proceed with the sentencing procedures, and said that it also had victim impact reports as to how the abuse had affected the child.

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It is understood that the reports have been submitted by family members, which include the sister of the baby’s mother. She has been taking care of Baby L since the couple were initially charged with attempted murder.

Prosecutor Cornelia Harmzen said if the father challenged the contents of the social worker report regarding his circumstances, he could raise them while the social worker was in the witness box this week.

But Judge De Vos said “fair is fair” and the father should have the same opportunity in light of the fact that the mother had the opportunity to look at the report regarding herself before it was submitted to court.

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The parents face sentencing following their assault and child neglect convictions. They were earlier acquitted on a charge of attempted murder.

The premature baby, born in February last year, first landed in hospital at the age of two months with 18 rib fractures (some were broken in various places), and at the age of 5 months with at least 33 fractures.

While she was in her parents’ care, they simply shook their shoulders and said they had no idea how she had suffered the injuries.

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But Judge de Vos said it was clear they had both assaulted the child and they were protecting each other.

“It is a case of ’hear no evil, see no evil’,” he said.

The parents are out on bail and will be back in court for two days on March 1 to face their punishment.

Pretoria News

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