Man found guilty of murdering Baby Daniel, mother guilty of child neglect

The mother of Baby Daniel, the toddler who was abused and killed in 2016, has been found guilty of child abuse and negligence, while her boyfriend at the time has been convicted of the child's murder.

Judgment was delivered in the trial of Maryke Cloete* and Timothy Naidoo in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Cloete and her boyfriend Naidoo were on trial for the murder, abuse and neglect of the three-year-old boy, who died in June 2016. 

During the trial, testimony revealed the extent of the alleged torture and injuries suffered by Daniel, which included a broken elbow, broken femur, injured ribs and a second degree burns to 60% of his body. 

Naidoo, who wasn't the childs's biological father, said Daniel had fallen into a bath of hot water and, although he had seemed fine afterwards, he had been found dead the next day.

A forensic pathologist testified that the child's injuries had been inflicted while he was still alive.

Daniel was never taken to hospital for the burn injuries, but prior to this he had been to hospital several times.

Judge Collin Matshitse, in delivering in his ruling, noted that in February 2016 Naidoo had taken the toddler to hospital, claiming he had been injured in a fall from a tree. Matshitse said Naidoo could not explain why the child had bruises below his eye and injuries on his nipples.

During the trial, one witness testified that Cloete wanted to open an attempted murder case against Naidoo. Naidoo denied a case was opened against him.

Ngaa Murombedzi from Women and Men against Child Abuse said the organisation welcomed the judgement.

"We understand that it was difficult for the judge to convict the mother on a murder charge. But, we are happy with her conviction."

"The onus was on the state to prove the murder charge on the mother. We are happy that the state proved that she was negligent which ultimately led to her son's death."

Murombedzi urged parents who find themselves living in fear for their lives in abusive relationships to report the abuse to authorities.

"Failing to protect your child can lead to neglect and your silence as a mother can lead to the death or murder of your child" she said.

Cloete will apply for bail on Friday, while sentencing procedures are due to begin on January 21, 2019.

*Maryke Cloete is not the woman's real name. Her identity has been concealed to protect the identities of her other three children.

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