Murderous mom breaks down in Pretoria court

18 February 2013 - 19:12 By Sapa
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

A woman convicted of murdering her baby boy broke down in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

She started sobbing when confronted with her seeming lack of concern for her baby's suffering.

Marissa Rudman told the court she accepted her conviction on a charge of murdering her two-month-old baby son Wade, but insisted she had not seen any injuries on her child.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius found Rudman and her former boyfriend Nolan Schoeman guilty in August of murdering their son.

On Monday, Rudman admitted her son would probably still be alive if she had not removed him from the Pretoria West hospital, against medical advice, about a week before his death.

She said she had removed him because she was not satisfied with the treatment, and not because she wanted to hide his broken ribs and arms from the medical staff.

Wade died of head injuries four days after being admitted to the Steve Biko Hospital, in Pretoria, in April 2009.

According to medical evidence, parts of his brain had died and he was in a coma when he was admitted to the hospital.

His brain injuries had been caused by direct, blunt force trauma.

Wade had two broken forearms and 22 broken ribs, which were more than a week old and had already started to heal.

He also had a severe lung contusion caused by a direct, hard blow to the chest, and bruises and abrasions on his face, chest and the soles of his feet.

A nine-year-old boy testified that he had seen Schoeman punching the baby's head.

Two medical doctors testified that the baby's injuries would immediately have been clearly visible.

Asked why she should not go to prison, Rudman said it had not been her intent to have her child harmed by Schoeman.

She conceded that she had been negligent, but reiterated that she had not seen Schoeman hitting the baby, and had not seen any visible injuries.

Asked how she felt about her baby's death, Rudman said she felt "much more than remorse".

"I hate myself. I live with this hate in me every single day that I didn't protect my child. That I didn't see it.

"I sometimes can't breathe at the thought of that. I don't know what's the problem with me that I didn't see it. That I allowed this to happen.

"... He was not supposed to die. I should have protected him. I feel like the worst mother on earth. I feel I did everything wrong.

"... I suffer from anxiety and depression. I realise I need help and that it's necessary," she said.

Rudman told the court about her difficult childhood years.

She was raised mainly by her grandparents, had hazy memories of her father and seldom saw her mother, who had bipolar depression and was in and out of mental institutions.

Her first child was adopted after she fell pregnant at the age of 18 and she had an abortion, before falling pregnant again.

She said her ex-husband and Schoeman had both assaulted her and she had at first moved in with Schoeman because she felt he could protect her against her ex-husband.

She admitted using drugs with Schoeman and assaulting him a few times, but said she had stopped her angry behaviour after being counselled for six months.

Rudman said she lived with Schoeman for two years after their arrest, despite her suspicions that he was responsible for the baby's death. She said she did so because she had nowhere else to go.

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