Sentencing of couple guilty of baby’s death postponed

Sentencing of a couple found guilty of raping, assaulting, and causing the death of their 10-month-old baby girl has been postponed to October 2 by the Johannesburg High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrates’ Court (Alberton).

Adriaan Netto (37) and his partner (34) were found guilty by Judge Majeke Mabesele on September 18. The woman may not be named to protect the identities of her other children. Both remained in custody.

Prosecutor Riana Williams told the court today the woman had shown no remorse.

“The only remorse you have is that you are here and are going to be sentenced,” Williams said.

Earlier, William Karam, for Netto, asked the court to be lenient on his client.

“The lack of direct evidence and the incidents of aggression by accused two (Netto) ought to cast them in a different light when it comes to sentencing,” he said.

Netto wore a grey jersey and a blue hat, while the woman sat next to him with her head bowed, listening as Mabesele reviewed the evidence against them.

Karam argued that a lack of witnesses and evidence of Netto physically abusing the child should be a factor for mitigation of sentence. He recounted Netto’s troubled childhood.

On September 18, in finding the couple guilty of culpable homicide, Mabesele said while they had not murdered the child, as charged, their neglect and abuse made them culpable for the baby’s death in March last year.

“(I) conclude that the deceased sustained bodily injuries while under the care of her parents. They had a legal duty to look after her… Being 10-months-old the deceased was unable to injure herself.”

Mabesele said the baby sustained injuries to the anus, caused by penetration, vagina, and liver and broken ribs. The couple’s testimony that they did not know how the baby was injured was rejected.

“(The) injuries suggest long-standing child abuse,” Mabesele said.

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