The prosecution yesterday expressed concern that counsel for a Springs mother, who is accused of severely abusing and neglecting her five children, was on a “fishing expedition” to find a defence for her.
Prosecutor Jennifer Cronje said it was clear that criminologist Dr Pixie du Toit had not been successful with her evidence that the 39-year-old mother was not accountable for her actions because she was also a victim of her husband.
The mother and her husband denied guilt to a range of charges relating to child abuse and neglect, attempting to murder their 11-year-old son, drug dealing and possession and failing to send the older children to school.
The father also denied raping and sexually molesting his eldest daughter.
Evidence was presented of the severe torture the two eldest children had endured and of the filthy state of their house, where rats ran around freely and the children survived on junk food because their mother almost never cooked.
The mother testified that her husband had forced her to dress like a prostitute and to perform sexual acts with prostitutes in front of him. She said she was assaulted when she tried to stop him abusing the children.
Du Toit concluded that the mother had symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, identified with her husband as a survival strategy and had no will of her own when the alleged crimes against the children were committed.
She conceded she relied on the results of tests which only a clinical psychologist could legally perform. Cronje then said she would call Professor Gerard Labuschagne, a clinical psychologist and former head of the police’s investigative psychology unit, to testify.
This prompted the mother’s defence counsel, Harry Prinsloo, to ask for the appointment of a psychologist to assist him. Judge Eben Jordaan said it was his impression that the psychologist was needed to do “a panel beating job”, because Du Toit was not a psychologist.
He said Du Toit’s conclusion was that the mother had Stockholm syndrome and he would like to hear a psychologist’s view. – firstname.lastname@example.org