Desperate young mother faces a long time in jail

2014-06-30 00:00

AN 18-year-old woman who pleaded guilty to stabbing her seven-month-old baby to death last month, told a high court judge on Friday she doesn’t know how it happened.

Nompumelelo Nyati from eDumbe near Paulpietersburg was called to give evidence in mitigation of sentence by her legal aid lawyer, Pauline Andrews. She told Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and an assessor in her evidence that she had loved her baby daughter, Aphiwe.

The judge asked her, in that case, to explain why she had stabbed the child with a bread knife as she described in a statement to the court. “.... I did not myself realise I was stabbing the child. I only realised it when the child was crying and I went to report to a neighbour,” she ­replied.

State advocate Frank van Heerden suggested to Nyati under cross examination that she must be lying, because in her written statement she’d said that she had gone to see the family of the baby’s father after failing to get a child support grant for three months, but was turned away. On her return she put her child on the ground and “looked for something to use to do the stabbing and found a breadknife”, she stated.

“I stabbed Aphiwe once on her chest. She cried. I went to Ntombela homestead ... and reported to them that I stabbed the child. I was crying.”

Nyati said they went back to her home and found Aphiwe was still breathing. “I was instructed to take the child to hospital ... The child died on the way to hospital.”

Van Heerden said the statement made it clear that the stabbing was premeditated and Nyati knew what she was doing. At the time of the murder she was living with her grandmother, sleeping on the kitchen floor and attending school. Due to the fact that she had no money, she would eat at a friend’s house.

Andrews urged the court to “have mercy” on Nyati when passing sentence and to take into account that she was only 18 years old and living under extreme pressure as a result of her poverty and that she was trying to care for her baby while completing her schooling.

The social worker’s report revealed that her mother had wanted her to abort the baby, but she refused.

The prosecution agreed that the court would be justified in passing a sentence of less than life imprisonment on Nyati in light of her youth, and her financial situation and dysfunctional family circumstances.

However, Van Heerden said a lengthy prison term was called for. Sentence was postponed to July 16.

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