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Baby Daniel's mother was abused as a child and an adult - social worker

02 April 2019 - 15:28 By Nico Gous
Baby Daniel was three years old when he died at the hands of his mother's then boyfriend, following a series of incidents of abuse to which she turned a blind eye.
Baby Daniel was three years old when he died at the hands of his mother's then boyfriend, following a series of incidents of abuse to which she turned a blind eye.
Image: 123RF/Artit Oubkaew

It would be "sanitising" to call what happened to Baby Daniel abuse, because it was "sadistic torture", a social worker said in a report to the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.

The report by Wezet Botes, who consulted to Baby Daniel's mother, was read out in the court. The matter resumed after reports were compiled for the prosecution and defence ahead of sentencing.

The boy's mother told Botes of an abusive childhood, which contributed to her condoning subsequent violence towards herself and her son.

Maryke Cloete*, 29, was found guilty in December on two counts of child neglect in connection with the death of her three-year-old son, known as Baby Daniel*. Her former boyfriend, Tim Naidoo*, was convicted of murder.

Paramedics found the child’s body at their home in Naturena, Johannesburg, in June 2016. He had burn wounds on 60% of his body after he had been submerged in boiling bath water. He also had head and chest injuries, and bruising on his arms.

Botes described the mother's two-year relationship with Naidoo as sexually, psychologically and emotionally abusive.

The mother told Botes that the night before Baby Daniel was killed, she and Naidoo argued and he pushed her.

Cloete said Daniel had looked "strange" and his eyes were "deurmekaar" (dazed). When she asked Naidoo what had happened, he replied: "I f*cked him up for good."

The next day, Baby Daniel’s lips were blue. Cloete said she tried to do CPR but the boy was not responsive. Paramedics confirmed that he was brain dead.

Cloete claimed that two months before Baby Daniel's death, her eldest son told her that Naidoo had broken Baby Daniel’s leg. When they took him to hospital, they conspired to lie and told the hospital that Daniel had fallen out of a tree, despite there being no defensive injuries to show he had tried to break his fall.

The mother also told Botes that Naidoo at times became enraged because Baby Daniel was not fully potty trained, sometimes hitting him.

In another incident, Naidoo allegedly placed their daughter behind the wheel of a car and threatened to release the handbrake.

Cloete said she sometime hid her food to give her children bigger portions, but Naidoo would force her to eat it when he found out.

Botes told the court that Cloete's parents had divorced when she was very young. Her parents often fought, and neglected her and her siblings. She said she was sexually abused. This abuse led to her becoming headstrong, making "poor relationship choices" and allowing an "enabling environment" for Naidoo to abuse the children, including Baby Daniel.

The social worker said Cloete showed "true remorse" and had gained insight into her actions.

She recommended imprisonment, followed by correctional supervision, during which Cloete could receive therapy to become rehabilitated from childhood abuse.

* Not their real names. Their names have been withheld to protect the identities of the surviving children.