‘Futility led me to kill baby’

2009-11-13 00:00

THE “overwhelming futility” of the situation a young Zimbabwean mother found herself in — unable to find employment and on being told she was not welcome in the home of her South African relative — led her to make a ”desperate decision” to strangle her 19-month-old baby boy.

Viola Mutasa (23) pleaded guilty before Judge Pete Koen yesterday to having murdered her son, Tadiwe Mutasa, at Richards Bay on May 4. She is due to be sentenced today.

She told the court she had believed she could survive and “sleep anywhere” if she did not have the baby to take care of.

”I was not thinking properly at that time,” she said yesterday.

Mutasa describes in her statement how she had left her uncle’s home in Richards Bay on May 4 on the pretext that she was going to Johannesburg to arrange for her child to be sent back to her home in Zimbabwe. “I made my way to a nearby bush, where I strangled the deceased. After the deceased stopped breathing I covered him with some branches and I fled from the scene.”

Afterwards she “maintained the fiction” that she had sent the baby back to Zimbabwe. She had managed to find work at a car wash in Durban.

”I tried to move beyond the murder of the deceased, but every day I was assailed by the horror of what I had done,” she said. Overcome by guilt, she had confessed to her uncle that she had murdered the infant and handed herself over to the police on August 31.

She took police to where she killed her child, but they could not find the body.

Mutasa told Judge Koen she was granted an “asylum permit” to be in South Africa, but her legal aid attorney, Ishi Khan, said he believes the document expired in October.

The judge asked state and defence counsel to inquire with the Home Affairs Department what effect Mutasa’s status in this country has on her sentence.

Mutasa explained in her plea to the court that she has two children — a daughter aged four years who remains in Zimbabwe with her grandmother — and Tadiwe.

She said both were fathered by Kudakwashe Chimwe, but after Tadiwe’s birth he had denied paternity and refused to support the siblings.

”The steadily worsening Zimbabwean economy and the global recession combined to make already scarce jobs almost impossible to find and I could not obtain employment in order to support myself and my children.”

She said they were driven to a “hand-to-mouth” existence and regularly went hungry for days.

Her uncle, Herbert Mutasa, suggested she could improve her life and find a job in South Africa and invited her here. She arrived in November with Tadiwe, who was not yet weaned. However, Mutasa said her uncle’s wife, Zanele, made it clear she was not welcome. She said matters came to a head between them in May this year when Zanele assaulted her in public and told her to get out of her home.

“I wanted to leave my uncle’s home, but I realised I could only do so if I could find someone to look after the deceased or if I could stay with someone who would not mind my keeping the deceased with me while I looked for employment.

“The overwhelming futility of the situation I found myself in led to my desperate decision to kill the deceased,” she said.

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