A Mamelodi man who severely assaulted his girlfriend’s three-year-old son and then left the dying child alone without help for hours has been convicted of culpable homicide in the High Court in Pretoria.
Judge Neil Tuchten found that William Tjiane’s assault on his girlfriend Elizabeth Phahle’s son Tebetso in August 2010 led to the child’s death.
But he could not rule that Tjiane had intended to kill the little boy. Tebetso died shortly after his mother rushed him to hospital after finding him naked and seriously injured in the house they shared with Tjiane. His last word to his mother was “mamma”.
A pathologist testified that the boy had blunt force injuries on his forehead and the back of his head, several brain bleeds, his buttocks were purple and swollen, there were lacerations inside his lips and he had print abrasions – corresponding with Tjiane’s shoe print – on his thigh and flank.
The court rejected Tjiane’s claim that he had nothing to do with the child’s injuries.
Tjiane said he had fallen asleep after his girlfriend woke him up early that morning and asked him to take Tebetso to the crèche.
He claimed he had put the child in a bucket after seeing that he had soiled himself, went outside to fetch more water and found on his return that the child had fallen over.
Tuchten said although there was no direct evidence about how the child had sustained the injuries, it was probable that Tjiane had lost his temper and severely assaulted the three-year-old.
He said it was clear that Tjiane had then left the boy alone inside the house without getting medical help, despite the fact that he knew the child had difficulty breathing and sounded as if he was choking.
The trial continues.