Monday, February 14, 2011

Dad convicted of murdering 2-year-old son during visit (Pretoria, South Africa)

Dad SIBUSISO PHETLA has been convicted of murdering his 2-year-old son. Notice that the child's injuries all took place during Daddy's visitation time.

Dad guilty of murder
Mon, 14 Feb 2011 5:10

A Pretoria father was on Monday convicted on a charge of murdering his two-year-old son after the child died of a severe head injury in 2008.

The High Court in Pretoria rejected 34-year-old Sibusiso Phetla's claims that his son, Amogelang Solomon Maditla, had sustained extensive first degree burns "by accident" after falling against a heater.

Judge Vivian Tlhapi said it was clear from medical evidence, as well as the evidence of the child's mother and grandmother that the injuries leading to the boy's death had been sustained in the 24 hours before he was taken to hospital while he was in Phetla's care.

She rejected his claims that the boy must have sustained a broken skull, leg, arm and ribs, a ruptured liver and extensive bruises and cuts all over his body before coming to him for a visit.

A pathologist found that the boy had died of a head injury, caused by blunt force trauma, complicated by bronchopneumonia.

A paediatrician testified that the little boy was in severe pain when he was admitted to hospital and had a twisted arm and extensive bruises and burns that were clearly visible to the naked eye and unlikely to have been caused by accident.

The paediatrician was of the opinion that some of the burns, which stretched from the child's abdomen to the soles of his feet, could have been caused by hot water, a clothes iron or a cigarette.

She said there was no evidence that older injuries noted during the post mortem examination had caused the boy's death.

Tlhapi accepted medical evidence that about half of all patients with head trauma who were in a coma like Phetla's son developed bronchopneumonia within six to 24 hours.

The mother and grandmother both testified that the boy had flu and was coughing, but was running and playing normally before he was dropped at his father's home.

Phetla at first refused to let the mother see her child.

When she eventually saw her son the next day he was virtually in a coma and she rushed him to hospital.

Phetla testified that the child had a nappy rash, was crying and wanted to be held all the time, but did not mention seeing any other injuries.

Referring to photos of the little boy's injuries, the Judge said one did not need a doctor to see the bruises and broken arm, which were clearly visible on the child.

She said Phetla must have seen the injuries and his version of how his son had sustained the injuries was not reasonably possibly true.

She could, however, not find that the child's murder had been premeditated.

The trial was postponed to 23 February for sentencing proceedings.

Tlhapi ordered that Phetla must remain in custody until then.