The state has sharply attacked the evidence of a forensic criminologist, who implied that a 39-year-old Springs woman accused of severely abusing and neglecting her five children might not be accountable for her actions.
Dr Pixie du Toit, a forensic criminologist, testified on behalf of the mother to explain how her husband’s conduct had affected her with relation to the crimes she stands accused of.
The mother and her husband denied guilt to a range of charges, including abusing and neglecting their children – then aged between two and 16 – attempting to murder their 11-year-old son, drug dealing and failing to send the older children to school.
The father also denied that for years he raped and sexually abused his eldest daughter.
Prosecutor Jennifer Cronje yesterday accused Du Toit of transgressing into the speciality field of psychologists – using psychological tests she was not even supposed to have in her possession – and breaking the law.
Cronje said some of the tests Du Toit used could only be used by psychologists who had been trained for six to seven years.
Du Toit said she had been trained in America on how to use some of the tests and had used them as part of her forensic evaluation for many years, but had never pretended to be a psychologist and had never been questioned before about her methods.
She admitted recommending that the mother should receive treatment for depression although she was not trained to diagnose depression, but insisted she could deduct from talking to the accused that she was feeling “down” and depressed.
Although Du Toit said the mother had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and Stockholm syndrome because of her husband’s long-term abuse, she denied diagnosing her with these conditions.
She also denied diagnosing the father, to whom she had never spoken, as a “psychopath”, but said the record of the evidence in the trial pointed to antisocial behaviour.
Du Toit referred in her report to the mother’s dyslexia and “low intellect”, which might influence her accountability, but admitted she had not tested the mother’s IQ.
However, she said she could deduct the woman was “no genius”. The trial continues.