'All she kept saying was that she was sorry for what she had done, as it was a mistake.'
Durban – Harrowing details of the murder of a 16-month-old were shared in the Ntuzuma Regional Court on Tuesday, as an inquiry was held into the mental fitness of the child’s mother to stand trial, after she killed the toddler last year.
The investigating officer, Sergeant Mfan’fikile Mbhele, told the court he had been informed by his commander about the incident on December 31 and went to a clinic in Lindelani, where he found the body of the infant.
Next to the body was the mother’s twin sister, who had been the child’s guardian. He noticed the child had a cut across the neck and another cut about four centimetres above the genitals.
Mbhele said he then rushed to the mother’s home and found the woman sitting in a room with blood on her hands. The woman pointed to a shelf where the bloodied knife was, he said.
While he was being questioned by prosecutor Collen Molebatsi, Mbhele described the woman’s behaviour.
“All she kept saying was that she was sorry for what she had done, as it was a mistake,” he said. She was later taken to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital for observation and was interviewed by doctors.
The 30-year-old woman, who is not being named to protect the identity of her second child, was later booked into Fort Napier Hospital, where she was observed by three psychiatrists.
Two said she was fit to stand trial, while one said she was not.
Her father, who also took the stand, said his daughter had lived with him before going to visit her sister that day. He said she had developed mental problems while in high school and this was one of the reasons she dropped out in Grade 9.
“She is mentally challenged and she takes medicines given to her by her doctor,” he said, adding that each time his daughter gave birth, the child would be taken away from her and made to live with a relative due to her condition.
While the father was talking, the woman stood up and asked for the cellphone number of her sister and father.
Magistrate E la Grange had to tell the defence attorney to tell his client that this behaviour was not allowed in court.
La Grange referred to this and other incidents when making her decision. She said from evidence presented during the inquiry, the woman did not show any emotion when telling people of the murder.
La Grange pointed out that the woman would change from being affectionate by buying her children snacks to denying that she had any children at all. La Grange found that the woman was guilty by her actions, but was not mentally fit to stand trial as she did not understand the consequences of her actions and was not criminally responsible.
The woman has been committed to a mental institution.