Dad says child broke skull, arm by accident

2010-09-15 07:59

A Pretoria father has claimed his two-year-old son had sustained a broken skull and arm, and a ruptured liver “by accident”.

Sibusiso Phetla (28) of Lotus Garden, yesterday denied in the North Gauteng High Court that he had in July 2008 murdered his son Amogelang Solomon Maditla and failed to get medical help for the seriously injured child.

He claimed the boy had fallen off a couch onto a heater, which was how he had sustained the broken bones, internal injuries, bruises and burns all over his body.

The state alleges Phetla had severely assaulted his son after fetching him from his mother for a visit at his house for the day.

He allegedly hid the child, preventing the mother from seeing him until the next morning, when she found the boy virtually in a coma due to the seriousness of his injuries.

The boy died shortly after being admitted to hospital of a head injury caused by blunt-force trauma and complicated by bronchopneumonia.

A pathologist and a paediatrician testified that there would have been grill marks on the child’s body if he had fallen against an ordinary heater.

One of the doctors said the mark on the child’s arm looked a lot like the mark of an iron.

Both doctors described several of the other burn wounds on the child’s body as most likely caused by hot water.

The child also had blood in his urine, caused by a ruptured liver as a result of blunt-force trauma.

The doctors testified that the fractures to the child’s arm and head were so serious that it could not have been caused by him falling off a sofa or bed.

The boy’s grandmother told the court the child’s forehead was swollen when she saw him in hospital.

Phetla said he did not know how these injuries could have been caused, but felt it must have been the result of the boy falling off a couch when he quickly went out for a cigarette that night.

He claimed the child had been sitting on the couch when he went out and was lying next to the overturned heater when he heard the boy scream and rushed back inside.

He had put toothpaste on the burns and slept with the child that night, but it did not cross his mind to summon help or phone the mother, he said.

He only realised the child was weak and was seriously injured the next morning, but did not do anything and “just sat there” until the mother arrived.

According to Phetla, he had noticed that his son was not feeling well when the mother brought the child to him the previous day, but thought it was a minor thing that would pass.

Judge Vivian Tlhapi postponed the trial to November 15 for legal argument.?


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