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Pretoria court hears of brutal baby assault

Sapa | 17 November, 2014 18:43

A two-year-old girl known as Baby L no longer had a pulse when she was rushed to hospital in December last year, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

The sister of a Pretoria North man accused of trying to kill Baby L by repeatedly assaulting her gave dramatic evidence about her desperate attempts to save the toddler’s life while racing to hospital.

The 36-year-old man and Baby L’s 20-year-old mother have pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, child abuse and failure to provide medical assistance to the toddler.

They denied assaulting or neglecting the toddler and claimed she had sustained multiple bruises, a severe head injury, fractured pelvis and injuries to her pancreas and kidneys by falls from stairs and a washing machine.

The witness, who was a nurse in the paediatric ward of a Centurion hospital at the time, testified that Baby L laughed and screamed with enthusiasm when she saw her around lunch time on December 30 last year.

The woman and her mother went to pick up her brother at his flat to go shopping that day.

He came down the stairs with Baby L on his hip. The toddler was very happy to see her and he immediately handed the child to her.

She realised that Baby L, who was being potty trained at the time, had wet herself and offered to change her, but her brother said he would take the child upstairs.

He roughly grabbed Baby L from her and took her upstairs. She could hear him scolding the toddler.

When he returned without the toddler, he told his sister Baby L had soiled herself and he had drawn a bath for her.

When she wanted to know if he had left the baby alone in the bath, he assured her that the social worker next door was with her.

They felt comfortable with the situation and went shopping.

They had only been away for about five minutes when her brother phoned her mother to say Baby L was having a fit.

They rushed back to the flat where her brother came running out with Baby L in his arms.

He handed the toddler to his sister, who immediately started massaging the little girl’s heart and giving mouth to mouth resuscitation, but she was unresponsive.

“The first thing I noticed was that she was still wearing exactly the same clothes as before.

“The second thing was that she was wet from head to toe.

“I felt for a pulse but there was nothing.

“I told my mother the whole time the child is blue.

“Not because of a lack of oxygen but blue because of a fall. Blue bruises. Her nails and around her mouth were also blue, which was indicative of a lack of oxygen.

“I ran in with her when we stopped at the emergency room and a doctor immediately took her from me.

“We were all very emotional. We could do nothing but wait.

“I asked him what happened and why she was wet.

“He said when he got there he thanked the social worker and took Baby L.

“He felt bad because he had scolded her and sent her to the toilet.

“When he turned around he saw her holding onto the rim of the bath and passing out.

“He said he took a glass of water and threw it over her and gave her a few slaps to get reaction out of her,” she testified.

The State alleged in the charge sheet that the boyfriend had repeatedly assaulted Baby L and did not take her to hospital when she was injured on December 15.

The couple took her to the Steve Biko hospital for the first time on December 27, but absconded before a neurosurgeon could look at a scan from Baby L’s brain and without the toddler receiving medical attention.

The trial continues before Judge Nico Coetzee.