Worker warned Baby L's mom against abuse, court told

2014-11-24 20:20

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Pretoria - A domestic worker warned a mother she would report her if she saw her hitting her 2-year-old daughter, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

She did so after seeing blue marks on the girl's arm and upper leg, testified Beatrice McKenzie, who sometimes looked after the toddler known as Baby L.

The 20-year-old mother told her the marks were made while they were playing and that they would disappear, McKenzie told the court.

"I did not want anyone to hurt a child. I knew mothers sometimes get angry and hit their kids.

"But she looked well after the child. She also said if the child was ill the next day she would take her to the clinic," she testified.

Baby L's mother and her boyfriend have denied trying to kill her, abusing her and depriving her of medical care.

The mother's advocate Pieter Coetzee put it to McKenzie that the conversation did not take place.

He also disputed McKenzie's claim that the woman neglected to take the child to the doctor when she was feverish with measles.

McKenzie conceded that although she heard that the child had fallen down a flight of stairs, she was on leave at the time and did not see marks on her.

Although she had accused the mother of being too lazy to cook for the child, she admitted it was her job to cook. She claimed the mother wanted to sleep rather than play with the child.

She conceded that she at no time saw the woman assault or shout at the toddler.

McKenzie, who worked for the woman's 36-year-old boyfriend when he was still married to his wife, said he had treated Baby L no differently to his own two children.

"He was not rough on her and he always talked to her nicely. Every time she did something wrong and her mother sent her to her room, he would go and fetch her again," she testified.

In other evidence, the court heard that Baby L was blue, not responding or breathing, and had no pulse when Dr Michelle Martins saw her after she was admitted to casualty department of the Akasia hospital on 30 December. It took Martins and another doctor 15 minutes to resuscitate the child.

A scan showed bleeding on the brain, and X-rays revealed a fracture of the pelvis, Martins testified.

"My initial prognosis was very, very poor. I didn't think she would survive," she told the court.

Martins noted numerous bruises, at various stages of healing, all over the child's body.

When she tried to speak to the mother, her boyfriend said the toddler had fallen from a washing machine two days previously, that she was taken to the Steve Biko Hospital, but was discharged after a brain scan.

She had collapsed 15 minutes before being taken to the Akasia Hospital. Martins said she concluded that Baby L's multiple bruises and injuries were caused by blunt force trauma.

The trial continues on Tuesday, when the State will call its last witness.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime  |  child abuse

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