'Baby Daniel' murder: court to hear how his siblings were affected
The case against a mother and her then boyfriend, convicted of the abuse that led to the death of her three-year-old son (known as Baby Daniel), has been postponed to April 2019 so reports can be compiled for the prosecution and defence ahead of sentencing.
The child’s corpse was found by paramedics at his Naturena, Johannesburg, home in June 2016. The majority of his body was covered in burns he sustained in boiling bath water. The mother has been convicted of child neglect and abuse, while her co-accused, who was not the father of the child, has been found guilty of murder and child abuse.
They are not being named to protect the identity of the woman’s other children. Two of her three surviving children are in a children’s home. The third child is living with a relative.
On Monday, the South Gauteng High Court postponed their case to April 1, 3 and 8 for sentencing.
Mario Coetzee, the lawyer representing Baby Daniel’s mother, told the court she had secured the services of a private social worker, who will compile a report on her behalf.
"The social worker has commenced with her investigation and will be ready with the report at the end of February," Coetzee said.
He said the defence was also awaiting the completion of reports from a probation officer and a correctional officer.
The court was also informed that a pre-sentencing report on behalf of the woman’s former boyfriend would be completed by February 20.
The court ordered the state to prepare a victim impact assessment report on the effect Baby Daniel’s death had had on his siblings.
Spokesperson for Women and Men Against Child Abuse Luke Lamprecht said they were pleased with the court’s directive.
"The element that we found important is the fact that the judge recognised that if you have probation officers’ reports, you are already looking at the circumstances of the accused. And he instructed the state advocate to get victim impact assessment reports on the other children,recognising that the murder of the child has had an impact on the other children in the family."
Lamprecht said the organisation was hoping the court would send a strong message that if you are a bystander in a crime, you are as guilty as the offender.
In December 2018, judge Collin Matshitse rejected assertions made by the defence, instead ruling that every injury was caused by abuse at the hands of the boy’s mother’s boyfriend, and that his mother did nothing to prevent it.
During trial proceedings, the man claimed the child had fallen into hot bath water and hit his head. This was ruled to be untrue. The head injuries, said experts, were from blunt force, not from falling.
The experts also rejected the man’s claim that the toddler had hurt his elbow after falling from a bicycle. They said the injury was caused by a person, not a fall.
The court also rejected the versions of the two accused that the bruises under both his eyes were from walking into a sliding door.
According to the experts, the man’s imprints, found on Baby Daniel’s upper body, could not have been caused by lifting the boy up, as was claimed in court. They found that the imprints were from the man pressing the toddler down into the water.
The experts also found it unlikely that conducting CPR on the child would cause injuries to his chest, as his mother had claimed. Only considerable force would have caused injuries to his chest and not resuscitation, they said.