Stepfather of badly abused boy may be referred for psychiatric evaluation

2018-06-22 16:33
Western Cape High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Western Cape High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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The stepfather of a boy who had been abused so badly he needed to be admitted to a special care centre may be referred for psychiatric evaluation, the Western Cape High Court heard on Friday.

Taswell and Renzia Louw were appearing for a pre-trial hearing on charges of attempted murder and child abuse. Taswell's advocate Mike Pothier informed Judge Mark Sher that he had received information relating to his client's medical history.

He said he had reason to believe that Taswell should be referred to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital 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. Both children were left in Taswell's care during the day, between December 2016 and February 2017.

ALSO READ: Case against mother and stepfather of abused boy, 3, delayed by post-mortem report

The couple had apparently been married for a "relatively short period", before the alleged abuse took place.

It is alleged that both had at times locked the children in their Uitsig home and left them unattended for several hours in the evening, with the older son sometimes being locked out of the house without food.

It is alleged that Renzia knew of the abuse, but failed to protect the children or get them the required medical attention.

They were charged in February 2017. Jeremiah, 3 years old at the time, died in April this year.

Prosecutor Liezl Herbst said that a report into the toddler's death had been compiled, consisting of input from all the institutions where Jeremiah had received care.

Probe into cause of death

The report would be used to determine if the child had died because of the injuries sustained, allegedly at the hands of his parents, which could result in the charge being changed to murder.

Doctors had to interpret findings recorded at the time and extract information to assist in confirming what the cause of death was.

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

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

ALSO READ: Mom, stepdad in court after abused boy, 2, dies

When he was hospitalised, "extreme medical interventions" were required to save his life.

While he 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.

The matter was postponed to August 17.

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Read more on:    jeremiah speak  |  cape town  |  child abuse  |  crime

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