Sentencing proceedings in the Western Cape High Court against a 25-year-old father convicted of killing his three-month-old daughter two years ago have been postponed.
Eugene Plaatjies was warmly greeted and embraced by several family members in courtroom 6 at the court as he waited in the dock for sentencing to proceed.
But, after an hour-long wait, Acting Judge Nolita Kose appeared and said “the court was not ready” to proceed with sentencing on Wednesday.
Plaatjies, who seemed to bask in the media limelight before his April conviction, was visibly irritated by journalists attempting to photograph him.
He has been convicted of murder, child abuse and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. His daughter, three-month-old Anthonique, died at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital a day after she was admitted on June 13, 2014.
Kose said in her judgement that she found it “very difficult to accept the version of the accused” and had no doubt that he “inflicted and consequently caused the death of the deceased”.
During the trial, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified that the infant had sustained multiple bruises, multiple fractures, severe closed head injuries, multiple skull fractures, a laceration of the liver, fractures of the ribs and a contusion of the lung.
The baby had both fresh and old fractures and had been “chronically abused”.
The pathologist said the extensive fractures of the skull would have been caused by banging the baby’s head against the wall or kicking her in the head.
The court dismissed Plaatjie’s version that the baby had fallen off the bed and hit a bench.
The mother of the baby, 30-year-old Louise Alkaster, pleaded guilty to child neglect and was sentenced to a five-year suspended sentence at the start of the trial.
During the trial, Alkaster told the court that the day before her baby died she had been doing household chores when Plaatjies called her inside and she found the child having seizures.
The baby was admitted to the Montagu Hospital. She was unconscious, had shallow breathing, and bruises all over her body.
Staff at the Montagu Hospital transferred Anthonique to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, where she was declared brain dead and died the following day.
Two days later, Plaatjies threatened Alkaster with a knife and beat her up. A neighbour came to her rescue and the police were called.
Alkaster told the court she never laid a charge against her partner out of both fear and love.
The judge found Plaatjies guilty of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm for this incident. Alkaster was not present in court on Wednesday.
Sentencing has been set down for August 16.
– African News Agency (ANA)