The parents of twins who were severely abused when they were only two months old were today convicted in the High Court in Pretoria of being accessories after the fact to attempted murder and assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Convicting the couple – both in their 20s – Judge Eben Jordaan said it was clear they had lied either to protect each other or to avoid responsibility for their actions. The couple, who have since split up, both denied knowing anything about how the children were injured. The two-month-old baby boy was rushed to hospital in the early morning hours of Christmas morning 2012 with a cracked skull and brain bleeding, for which he had to receive emergency surgery.
He also had bruises on both ears, his fingers and on his buttock. He is now severely disabled and will never be able to lead a normal life. According to medical evidence, his baby sister had four fractured ribs and an infection in her leg that had already started to heal. The injuries were several weeks old.
The mother insisted there was nothing wrong with her babies when they went to sleep the night before Christmas and insisted they were “happy babies” and that she was a “good mommy”. The father also claimed he knew nothing about the children’s injuries and insisted his baby son had just suddenly stopped breathing before he was rushed to hospital.
Judge Jordaan said the medical evidence was uncontroverted. It was clear severe direct violence and a high impact with a blunt instrument had caused the injuries to the defenceless babies. According to medical evidence, the bones of babies were pliable and did not fracture easily. The little boy’s head injuries were so severe that it looked as if he had been in a car accident.
Falling off a bed or shaking the baby could not have caused such injuries. Judge Jordaan said it was clear the babies would have been in severe pain, uncomfortable and crying after sustaining such serious injuries. The baby girl would have had difficulty breathing. They could not have been injured in silence, and both parents must have been aware of the injuries.
He said it was still not certain who had caused the injuries, but the babies were in their parents’ care when it happened, and both knew what happened but concocted a false version they dished up in court.
The trial continues.