The High Court in Pretoria has sentenced a couple to 14 years in prison for violently assaulting their six-month-old daughter, causing multiple broken bones. The child, referred to as Baby N, was first admitted to a hospital in April 2020 with injuries consistent with child abuse when she was just five weeks old as reported by Pretoria Rekord.
The doctors and a private social worker reported the abuse to the police and the Department of Social Development, leading to a criminal complaint filed on 24 July 2020. The couple was found guilty of assault intending to cause grievous bodily harm and child neglect.
The case was opened thanks to the intervention of Afriforum’s Private Prosecution Unit, which assisted doctors in filing criminal charges against the parents. Without their intervention, the case may have been closed by the police due to a lack of evidence.
Further abuse occurred in July 2020 when the baby was admitted again to the hospital, with pneumonia, shock, and dehydration. She was severely underfed and weighed far less than normal for an infant of her age.
An MRI scan revealed that the baby had been violently shaken, and both of her femurs and several ribs were broken. In total, Baby N sustained 31 bone fractures between March and July 2020.
The judge presiding over the case, Hennie de Vos, described the couple’s acts as gruesome and deserving of the harshest sentence. However, the Private Prosecution Unit was praised for its role in bringing the parents to justice and the doctors and social workers for their advocacy on behalf of the child.
Photo by Viktoria Matrosova