A Durban man charged for assaulting, choking and trying to smother his two-month-old son, has also been accused of keeping his wife and daughter “prisoners” in their home for seven years.
This claim came to light after he reportedly left behind his cellphone when he went to work, allowing his wife to call for help for her injured baby.
“Our daughter has never been to school. He locks us inside the house and goes to work,” the mother said. “The baby was born at home. I delivered him. He has not even had his injections.”
The 42-year-old Newlands West draughtsman allegedly went into a fit of rage last week after the baby - who was ill - refused to stop crying. The child’s mother said her husband told her he was tired and did not want to deal with a crying baby and asked her to pacify the child so he could sleep.
When she failed, he grabbed the screaming child from her arms and squeezed him tightly against his chest, smothering his face.
The mother alleged he then used his fists to hit the baby all over his body and also pushed his fingers down the baby’s throat and punched him in the face.
The man appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Friday, on charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He was released on R4 000 bail and the matter was adjourned to July 12 for further investigation.
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said the baby sustained bruises and a broken arm.
The man’s seven-year-old daughter and wife have also claimed they were assaulted.
The mother and her two children have since fled their home and are living with relatives in Merebank.
According to the mother, during the alleged assault the baby was dropped from a height on to the bed.
“The baby’s arms were forced behind his back - one of them broke. He also bit both the baby’s cheeks.
“It was like he was in a fit of madness.”
She said the baby eventually cried himself to sleep. The following morning after the father had gone to work, the mother realised he had left his cellphone at home.
“Fortunately there was airtime and I called a relative.”
The relative said when she received the call she paid a neighbour to take her and her husband to Newlands. The landlord, who had a spare key, had let them in.
“They were all battered and bruised. I took the baby to a local doctor and he referred us to hospital.”
She said the baby had to be given oxygen and spent several days in hospital before he was discharged on Tuesday. The father was arrested when he went to visit the baby in hospital.
The relative said she had three children of her own and her husband was the sole breadwinner.
“We are battling to make ends meet. The baby has no formula, nappies or clothes. We are just getting by each day. I am appealing for help for the baby.”
She said she could not put them out on the street.
“I am afraid that if they go back home something worse will happen. I just pray that we can take care of the baby’s needs.”
It is national Child Protection Week this week.
Childline KZN director Linda Naidoo, commenting generally, said battered child syndrome was an international phenomena and not restricted to South Africa.
“There is international concern around this issue.
“What is even more worrying is that this syndrome affects toddlers and babies.
“The number of infants killed in the last few years by either their mother or father has been alarming.”
She said many babies and toddlers who died at the hands of their parents suffered excruciating pain.
Research showed that when serial abusers had children, they used them as “bartering commodities” with their spouses.
“This results in many violent outbursts. Many babies and toddlers cry because their basic needs - medical, physical and emotional - are not met,” Naidoo said, adding that such children could not be easily pacified.
“Parents’ frustration and the inability to control their anger results in these children becoming targets.”
She said many abused children were not detected because there was no structured system in place in South Africa.
“In the past, mandatory health checks were in place - we do not have that anymore. So many abused children are missed.”
Naidoo said friends and family of abused women needed to break their silence and report such incidents.
“It is mandatory for anyone to report suspicion of abuse to police. They can remain anonymous,” she said. “This is one of the first steps to breaking the cycle of violence.” - iOL
Is reporting abuse to the police really the answer to ending violence within the home? Do the parents receive training if or when they go to prison? Does prison improve upon a person's parenting skills? Does prison make one more patient? Does paying a fine, or bail, make one a better parent?
We live in a fairytale where we think that the police/authorities are some kind of magical cure-all, when there are no real solutions being applied, or even investigated. Locking someone up does not address the cause of the problem, it only displaces a part of the symptoms of the problem.
Ours is a fundamental problem that is rooted in our society - parents don't know how to parent, teachers don't know how to teach, leaders don't know how to lead, healers don't know how to heal. We live in an imaginary world where everything is peaches and rainbows (as long as I am happy) and we have our magical tonics to cure all sorts of problems: We have juvenile detention centers for problem children where their negative self image is reinforced and they receive an even lower quality education than what they would receive at other schools; we have prisons for problem adults where they sit in small rooms and do nothing all the time; we have a medical industry that is more interested in making a profit off of a sick person than healing a poor person; we have a school system that turns all of our children into dull-eyed robots, spewing out useless data, who receive training that prepares them to feel grateful for getting repetitive, mind-numbing jobs with no chance for real advancement; we have a food industry that feeds us corn but tells us it's beef, either way, whatever it was it was sure to have suffered; those who claim to be living and acting for the people in their positions of power are more interested in keeping the corporations happy than honouring any one of the promises they made.
No child should suffer, especially not at the hands of their own parent. The fact that we call domestic abuse a "common occurrence" but don't have any real solution for it shows exactly how much we care.