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

The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)
The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

An outstanding report on the post-mortem of three-year-old toddler Jeremiah Speak, who had been abused so badly he had to be admitted to a special care centre, has delayed proceedings in the trial of his mother and stepfather.

Taswell and Renzia Louw appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Friday for a pre-trial hearing on charges of attempted murder and child abuse.

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

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

Prosecutor Liezl Herbst informed Judge Mushtak Parker that a report into the toddler's death was still being compiled as files from all the institutions Jeremiah had received care from had to be collected for the document.

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

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

Constant medical care

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. 

ALSO READ: Cape Town couple accused of murdering toddler back in court

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

A panel was in the process of compiling the report. Doctors would have to interpret findings recorded at the time and extract information to assist in confirming what the little boy's cause of death was.

Parker appeared unimpressed, saying that an order should be issued to ensure that the report reaches the State by June 21.

Children left unattended

The matter was postponed to June 22.

According to the charge sheet, Renzia is the mother of Jeremiah and a nine-year-old boy. Both the children were left in Taswell's care during the day between December 2016 and February 2017.

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

ALSO READ: Man convicted of killing girlfriend's toddler to be sentenced

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.

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