Home South African System fails baby allegedly abused by parents

System fails baby allegedly abused by parents

988
SHARE

The police have now arrested the parents on criminal charges of attempted murder, assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm and child abuse.

The parents have been arrested after the alleged abuse of a baby. Picture: File/AP

Pretoria – The Centre for Child Law has urged the Department of Social Development to investigate how a 6-month-old baby fell through the cracks after she was twice admitted to a hospital with severe injuries.

The police have now arrested the parents on criminal charges of attempted murder, assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm and child abuse.

This comes after AfriForum’s private prosecution unit supported doctors to lay these charges. The baby is in safe custody.

According to Andrew Leask, head investigator at AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, the baby was admitted to a Pretoria hospital in July with various bone fractures, which, according to the doctors, had not been sustained simultaneously.

The baby also displayed injuries that indicated attempted murder, assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm and child abuse, he said.

She was admitted to the same hospital in April when she was only 5 weeks old. She then also displayed injuries which pointed at possible child abuse.

Her doctors and a private social worker then laid charges with the SAPS and the department, recommending that the child be removed from her parents’ custody.

Leask said although the parents subsequently appeared in court, the charges against the father were dropped because of an apparent lack of evidence.

“The SAPS then summarily closed the docket. At the time, the baby had been in the temporary care of her grandmother but was then returned to her parents.”

Leask welcomed the recent arrest of the parents.

“It is regrettable, however, that the system failed this vulnerable child in the first place and allowed earlier in the year for her to be returned into a life-threatening environment.

“The private prosecution unit will monitor the case and ensure that the baby receives the necessary protection and that the guilty parties are brought to book.”

Zita Hansungule, head of the Centre for Child Law, meanwhile said the allegations that the neglect and abuse of the baby had gone on without the necessary intervention by duty bearers, were extremely concerning.

She said this was especially so given their obligations to ensure the utmost protection and well-being of all children, particularly those who are vulnerable.

“The Children’s Act is very clear on the fact that when abuse or neglect of a child is reported to the police or Department of Social Development, steps must be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the child concerned.”

Hansungule added that afterwards there was the obligation on the department or a designated child protection organisation to investigate the report and, without delay, to initiate care and protection proceedings in the Children’s Court if the report is substantiated.

“It seems here that the child has been failed dismally by a system meant to protect her,” she said.

Pretoria News