Africa News Bulletin

South Africa: Four-month-old Baby M allegedly assaulted continuously since birth by parents

The Pretoria couple charged with the attempted murder of their then four-month-old child known as “Baby M” had allegedly assaulted him repeatedly since his birth.

The accused, who cannot be named to protect the identity of Baby M, have been charged with attempted murder, with an alternative count of assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm and child abuse.

Their arrests initially stemmed from an incident on 23 October 2020 where Baby M was severely injured following an alleged domestic dispute at their Sunnyside flat in Tshwane.

It is alleged that the father assaulted Baby M and threw him at his mother “like a rag doll”.

Baby M suffered several fractured ribs, a broken femur, respiratory failure and facial injuries. He was hospitalised for several weeks and could have died from the injuries, according to the State.

Baby M’s 28-year-old father was arrested shortly after the incident, while his 18-year-old mother was arrested and charged alongside her boyfriend more than a year later.

Continuous assault

While the incident in October 2020 led to the arrests, the State accused the parents of abusing Baby M repeatedly since his birth in June 2020.

According to an amended charge sheet seen by News24, the accused acted in common purpose with each other during the period of 17 June 2020 to 26 October 2020 to assault the victim, causing severe injuries to him which could have resulted in his death.

The abusive conduct of the accused toward the victim during the first four months of his life culminated in the incident of 23 October 2020, the charge sheet stated.

After being admitted to hospital, only three days after the alleged incident, Baby M presented with numerous bruises to his face and all over his body at various stages of healing – indicative that his injuries did not occur as a result of only one incident, the State claimed.

The State further pointed out that the parents aided each other by failing to seek medical attention or assistance for Baby M before his hospitalisation on 26 October.

“Only when it became clear that the victim had suffered serious injuries he could succumb to, did accused two [the mother] request assistance to have the victim taken to hospital for medical assistance.”

The State said the relationship between the two accused was of a volatile nature and that during domestic incidents between them, they projected their frustration and irritation with each other on Baby M by assaulting him and screaming at him when he cried.

The State further claimed that both parents failed to provide for Baby M’s physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs, nor did they provide him with a safe environment and proper hygiene.

Baby M had not been in his parents’ care since May 2021.

Both accused were expected to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

READ original article on News 24

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