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Father on trial for pouring paraffin on his 7-month-old daughter and burning her to death

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Vusumzi Potelwa, who is accused of murdering his own daughter by setting her alight appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, where the mother testified as a State witness.

Vusumzi Potelwa, who is accused of murdering his own daughter by setting her alight appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, where the mother testified as a State witness. Picture: Pexels

THE man accused of murdering his own daughter by setting her alight appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, where the mother testified as a State witness.

Vusumzi Potelwa has been charged with four counts of assault, arson, attempted murder and murder. Potelwa is accused of pouring paraffin over his 7-month-old baby Khwezi Mtshengu and setting her alight.

The State said that on November 17, 2019, Potelwa was drinking alcohol and playing music while the baby’s mother Sivuyisiwe Mtshengu was trying to sleep at their residence in Dunoon.

State prosecutor advocate Leon Snyman called Mtshengu to the stand. She testified that she was beaten by Potelwa.

“When he was hitting me, I had the baby in my arms,” she said.

Potelwa was playing music from a big speaker in the bedroom when she asked him to lower the volume for herself and the baby to sleep. He refused, so Mtshengu attempted to do it herself when she was assaulted by Potelwa who told her to “let the music play”.

“I lowered the volume myself, the speaker was next to the bed, so I was lying on my side. When I lowered the volume, he kicked me in my face,” Mtshengu said.

She took the baby to the toilet to get some sleep and carried blankets, pillows and the baby’s bottle. She had dozed off when she heard a loud bang on the door as Potelwa forced entry.

Mtshengu said Potelwa threw a paraffin heater at her which spilt on her clothes.

“He assaulted me while standing in the doorway, so we couldn’t go out. He searched for matches, but couldn’t find one.

“He went into the room, I could see him opening cupboards and drawers and I got scared, I thought that he was looking for a knife and then I ran,” Mtshengu said.

Msthengu said she looked for help as he chased after her but she escaped. She tried to get help from people in the street to go back for the baby but they refused to help her. She slept in a vacant house until the next morning, leaving the baby in the father’s care.

The State said little Khwezi’s burnt body was discovered the next morning by neighbours woken up by the smell of fire and smoke. The baby had been on fire and died. The post mortem confirmed the cause of death was smoke inhalation and burns.

Potelwa is represented by Michael Sibueng and has pleaded guilty to assault but not guilty to the rest of the charges.

Cape Argus

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