Pretoria – A Pretoria North businessman who abused his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter, leaving her in a vegetative state, will be sentenced in the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.
Judge Nico Coetzee on Monday postponed the 37-year-old man’s trial for sentencing.
The State asked the court to sentence the divorced father of two to 10 years’ imprisonment, but the defence argued that a stiff fine would suffice.
The court heard that the man’s business, which installed skylights, had collapsed after his arrest but that he hoped to revive it.
Heinrich Moldenhauer, for the defence, submitted that the accused was close to his biological children and that his son had to receive psychological help to come to terms with his father’s arrest.
Coetzee last week found the businessman guilty of child abuse, but acquitted him on charges of attempted murder and depriving the child, known as Baby L, of medical care.
Baby L’s 20-year-old mother was acquitted of all charges.
No remorse shown – State
The court found there was no evidence that she had abused her daughter or allowed her boyfriend to abuse Baby L.
Coetzee said it was probable that she had not even been aware of the abuse as she had left most of the child care to her boyfriend and was, according to her domestic worker, more interested in sleeping after working night shifts than in caring for her child.
Salome Scheepers, for the State, argued that the accused had shown no remorse whatsoever and deserved direct imprisonment.
The accused had robbed Baby L of her life as she only existed as opposed to being alive, she argued.
Coetzee pointed out that Baby L was still alive, but barely.
The judge earlier rejected the boyfriend’s claims that Baby L had fallen down a flight of stairs and off a washing machine.
He accepted medical evidence that Baby L had been abused, was hit on the head with an object and was probably hit on the abdomen with something like a broomstick.
Baby L was already in a coma when she was rushed to the Akasia hospital on 30 December last year.
In a vegetative state
Parts of her brain had already died and she had a fractured hip, blood in her abdomen and fluid in her lungs from a near-drowning.
She also had a bruised kidney, a serious injury to her pancreas as well as old and new bruises all over her body.
She had been taken to hospital but was discharged three days earlier.
Baby L is now in a vegetative state in an institution, unable to feed herself, walk or talk.
Coetzee accepted the evidence of forensic pathologist Dr Lorraine du Toit-Prinsloo that Baby L had been abused and that her head injury, fractured hip and pancreas injury had been caused by very hard blows and not a fall.
He found the boyfriend had left Baby L alone in a bath for over an hour and that she almost drowned while he was out shopping.
He ruled that the boyfriend had abused Baby L between 19 and 30 December 2013, resulting in her injuries.