Dad apologises for murder

27 January 2012 - 02:30

A Pretoria father convicted of killing his two-year-old son yesterday told the Pretoria High Court that he was sorry and pleaded that he be sentenced to correctional supervision.

Sibusiso Phetla's son died after being admitted to hospital in an unconscious state with a fractured skull, arms and legs, a ruptured liver and burn marks on his body.

He sustained the injuries while he visited his father for a few days in Lotus Gardens, Pretoria, in 2008.

Phetla, 29, told the court that he had taken the infamous drug "Nyaope", a street name for heroin, the day before the child died but said he had no idea how the injuries occurred on little Solomon Maditla.

Phetla had asked to spend a few nights with Solomon, who lived with his mother, Ouma Maditla. He claimed that some of the injuries could have occurred while Solomon was in the care of his mother before he was brought to him, but medical reports showed that the injuries were fresh.

He claimed that some of the burn marks were probably caused when a heater "fell" on the child.

The fractures, he said, were probably the result of the child falling off the sofa.

During the trial two doctors testified that the burn marks were caused by something like an iron, while the blisters across the boy's body were probably caused by boiling water and that the fracture to the skull was, in their opinion, caused by some blunt-force trauma.

He also contracted pneumonia, which the doctors said was consistent with someone who had suffered a fractured skull.

Through his legal representative, advocate Mike Ramoshaba, Phetla said he started using drugs at an early age and was an addict.

He asked the court to have mercy and said that he was willing to get help and be rehabilitated outside prison. He told the court that he loved his son.

In a psychological report compiled by psychologist Sunette van den Heever, Maditla (the boy's mother) said she was still angry and sad. She said Phetla never apologised to her for the death of her son and she could not forgive him.

State prosecutor Grace Mosethla said Phetla killed a defenceless child and showed no remorse and that he should be sentenced accordingly.

Judge Vivienne Tlhapi convicted Phetla of murder, but she could not find that it was premeditated. Phetla will be sentenced today.