“I put it to you that if you were such a good mother, as you’ve told the court you were, you would’ve noticed it [the injuries],” prosecutor Salome Scheepers said during cross-examination.
But Baby L’s mother insisted she had never harmed her child and that there were certain injuries she did not remember seeing.
“Baby L sustained no injuries in my care,” the 21-year-old said.
Scheepers argued that the only reason the mother did not notice the child’s injuries was either because she did not care about her child, or because she or her boyfriend were abusing Baby L and she was trying to hide it.
The Pretoria North woman and her 37-year-old boyfriend have denied trying to kill the toddler, abuse her, or deprive her of medical care.
On Thursday, the woman told the court her boyfriend sent her an sms on December 15 to tell her that he and Baby L had fallen down a staircase, and on December 27 that the baby was unconscious after she fell off a washing machine.
The woman looked at photographs of Baby L taken after she was admitted to hospital in a coma on December 30, and pointed out injuries she remembered.
Scheepers accused Baby L’s mother of protecting her boyfriend in court.
When Scheepers asked the mother what she thought of the pathologist’s report which indicated that Baby L had been physically abused, she responded: “At this stage I don’t know what to believe any more after the testimonies I’ve heard…. There are many things that don’t make sense to me. Everything that’s happened to Baby L is very traumatic to me.”
The court heard that Baby L must have been unconscious for almost an hour on December 27 before her mother arrived home from work and took her to hospital.
The mother did not know if her boyfriend had tried to contact anyone else for help during that time.
Her boyfriend was not waiting for her downstairs with unconscious Baby L, ready to leave for the hospital, when she arrived home. The child also was not fully dressed.
When Scheepers asked the mother what she thought of her boyfriend’s behaviour, she said: “I didn’t think at that stage. All I could think of was to get to Baby L as soon as possible.”
She had never had any reason not to trust her boyfriend’s versions of how her child sustained the injuries.
“I believed accused number one, trusted him. He’d never given me reason not to trust him.”
The court heard that her boyfriend did not accompany her to the hospital. She left the hospital with Baby L without the doctor’s permission after she heard that her child might have bleeding on the brain.
Scheepers remarked that the mother seemed more shocked when she heard that her boyfriend had had a female friend with him at their house, than when she saw photos of her child’s injuries.
Baby L’s mother admitted that she was shocked by her boyfriend’s statement, but said she was trying to stay strong in court in order to testify.
On Tuesday, a medical expert testified that Baby L was not injured accidentally but was a victim of child abuse.
Dr Lorraine du Toit-Prinsloo, a forensic pathologist, testified that the toddler was already in a coma when she was rushed to the Akasia Hospital on December 30 last year.
She had bleeding on her brain, a fractured hip, blood in her abdomen, a bruised kidney, a serious injury to the pancreas and bruises all over her body. She was in a vegetative state because of severe brain damage.
The case was postponed to January 16.