Private Prosecution Unit intervenes after authorities fail to act against abuse of five month old baby

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit assisted doctors and a social worker at a police station in Pretoria today to lay criminal charges of child abuse against the parents of a five month old baby. This follows after doctors previously laid complaints of child abuse with police when the baby was only five weeks old. While the case was initially investigated by police, they then informed those involved that the case was closed due to a lack of evidence.

According to Andrew Leask, chief investigator at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, it is shocking that the police and other authorities are failing in their duties to such an extent that a child is being subjected to severe abuse. “The authorities’ refusal to carry out their mandate to protect the baby girl stands in stark contrast with the promises made by politicians that violence against women and children should be punished to the fullest extent possible,” says Leask.

The baby girl was first admitted to a Pretoria hospital with injuries that were consistent with child abuse in April this year (when she was five weeks old). Her doctors and a private social worker then laid a complaint with the police and the Department of Social Development. The allegations included that the baby’s ribs were fractured in 15 places.

The hospital received the parents’ version of what happened and doctors agreed that the parents’ explanation didn’t justify the nature of the injuries. The doctors are of the opinion that the injuries point to consistent child abuse and cannot be attributed to any accidents. The police investigation has not yielded anything yet.

The baby was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria again on 1 July with pneumonia, shock and dehydration. She also weighed far less than what is normal for her age and was ravenously hungry. Further tests indicated that her collarbone had fractured two to three weeks before she was admitted and according to the doctors it is not easy for a baby’s collar bone to be broken by accident. An MRI scan showed injuries that were most probably caused when someone shook her violently. Both of her femurs were broken and the signs of several fractured ribs were still visible. The doctors who examined her all agree that it is likely she is abused constantly. The baby is currently in hospital.

“AfriForum will do everything in our power to ensure that this child is protected from further abuse,” says Leask.

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