Baby Daniel’s mother to spend first night in jail

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Marike Vermaak – the mother of three-year-old Baby Daniel – will spend her first night in jail as a convicted prisoner. She was found guilty of child neglect in the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday.

The toddler died in June 2016 after being submerged in hot water. He had sustained burn wounds over 60% of his body.

The High Court in Johannesburg found that Marike Vermaak knew that her child, from a previous relationship, was being abused by her long-term partner and father of her two other children. Timothy Naidoo was convicted of child abuse and murder.

Delivering his judgement, Judge Collen Mashitse said the toddler’s mother’s lover’s version of events were not probable.

Matshitse says it was clear that the burns the child sustained were not due to falling into a bath of hot water as Naidoo claimed.

“In the circumstances the inference the court draws is that the evidence points out that R was abused during his life time. Dr Hansmayer found some injuries on R which were more than 24-48 hours meaning R was assaulted not only on the day he was burned, he was previously and constantly being assaulted and it was accused number 2 who inflected those injuring on R and he was also burnt R when he was holding him inside hot water.”

The judge noted that Marike Vermaak was a battered woman herself. “This means accused 1 is constantly living in fear of accused 2, does whatever accused to tells her there is strong possibility accused 1 was aware of what accused 2 was doing to R however being afraid that she will lose her children she did become party to whatever accused 2 was doing, accused 2 had a strong influence on accused 21.”

Baby Daniel’s mother and her partner sat in silence as judgement was delivered.

Children’s rights groups were disappointed with the verdict. Luke Lambrecht of Women and Men Against Child Abuse believes Vermaak got away with murder.

“For me if you go to a bank and drive a car that steals the money and get arrested you also charged with bank robbery because you were a party to it so you were actually an accomplice they seem to have used more an accessory like after the fact that her lack of action resulted in the death.”

Vermaak will have to reapply for bail after her R2000 bail was revoked by the guilty finding. Her two other children are in the care of the state.

Vermaak’s mother is trying to get custody, while Naidoo’s mother wants visitation rights in a separate case.

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