Cape Town stepdad accused of severe child abuse referred for psychiatric evaluation

2018-07-19 17:51
Western Cape High Court. (File)

Western Cape High Court. (File)

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The stepfather accused, along with his wife, of abusing a toddler so badly that he was admitted to a special care centre, has been referred for psychiatric evaluation.

The order referring Taswell Louw to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital was signed on Thursday, Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila confirmed.

Taswell, along with his ex-wife Renzia, face charges of attempted murder and child abuse.

His advocate Mike Pothier last month informed Judge Mark Sher that he had received information relating to his client's medical history, and had reason to believe that Taswell should be referred for an assessment, once he had been examined by the district surgeon.

According to the charge sheet, Renzia is the mother of Jeremiah Speak and a 9-year-old boy, who were left in Taswell's care during the day.

Failure to seek medical attention

Both are accused of, at times, locking their children out of their Uitsig home and leaving them unattended for hours.

The older child was sometimes locked outside without food, the State alleges.

Renzia ostensibly knew of the abuse, but failed to protect the children or get them the required medical attention.

According to the charge sheet, Jeremiah's injuries included burn wounds and a ruptured small intestine that were left untreated.

The State believes the failure to seek medical treatment resulted in malnourishment and sepsis.

While Jeremiah survived because of the interventions, he was left suffering from severe spastic/dystonic cerebral palsy, intellectual and physical disability, the inability to swallow, and blindness.

He required constant medical care and had to remain in a special care centre.

Taswell and Renzia were charged in February 2017. Jeremiah, three years old at the time, died in April this year.

A report into the toddler's death had been compiled, consisting of input from all the institutions where he received care.

This will be used to determine if the child had died because of the injuries sustained, which could result in the charge being changed to murder.

The two are expected back in the Western Cape High Court for a pre-trial on August 17.

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