A four year old Francistown girl may be scarred for life after watching her mother give birth in the bush, suffocating the newly born baby to death and then slitting the baby’s throat with a razor blade.
The 25-year-old woman this week appeared before Judge Zibani Makhwade of the Francistown High Court facing charges for the murder of her infant with a razor blade.
Winani Seleme, of Maxobotai (Letlhakane) in the Boteti Sub-District, is alleged to have murdered her new born baby by cutting off its throat with a razor blade on the 3rd of January, 2005.
It is alleged that the accused headed for the bush with her four year old and returned hours later. She was exhibiting a strange behaviour immediately after her return from the bush, by continuously adjusting the curtains and windows of her house and one of the relatives went into the rooms where she discovered what appeared to be a placenta. After interrogating Seleme, she was led to a place in the bush and the body of a baby girl was exhumed. The police were later summoned to arrest her.
Post mortem results revealed that the baby died due to chocking from blood caused by a cut on the throat.
In Seleme’s confession statement, she admitted giving birth in the bush unassisted and putting her hand on the baby’s mouth to stop it from crying. She admitted it died and she buried it but did not explain the cut in the throat.
During the cross examination by the state counsel, Rabosotho Reneetswe, Seleme mentioned that in 2004, she fell in love with a man from Thamaga Village, she became pregnant and informed him. During the process, the man is said to have said that he was going home and never returned.
Seleme said that she tried to call him but without success and this frustrated her. She never communicated to her parents about this situation because she knew they would be angry since they were unemployed. She said that on 3rd of January 2005 she felt like visiting the toilet and then decided to go to the bush since they had no toilet. She went with her first born child to the bush and suddenly she felt an excruciating pain which led to her delivering a baby. She had a razor blade in the pocket and tried to cut the umbilical cord to separate the baby.
“I could not remember what happened next because the baby was in a pool of blood and no longer crying. It did not cross my mind to check if the baby was injured in any manner. I took an old cloth to wrap the baby and I noticed a hole in the bush. I then put the baby in the hole so that the dogs cannot take it,” Seleme said.
She further said that she went home and felt that there was something that was about to come out and realized that it was the placenta which she proceeded to put in a plastic bag. Her parents and relatives asked her about this and she told them the truth. The matter was reported to the Orapa Police Station and the baby was taken to the mortuary.
“I was taken to the hospital and then to the police cells where they referred me to the magistrate court and a charge sheet was read to me. I was then taken to a psychiatrist and the police told me that they had feedback but could not tell me. The magistrate told me that I should be remanded until trial,” said Seleme.
When bringing in the state submissions, Counsel Rabasotho Reneetswe said, “The injuries that were inflicted by the accused are unlawful and cutting the infant by mistake is just to mislead the court because the doctor said that there was no blood in the mouth of the deceased. Testimony of the accused is false.”
Reneetswe further called a state witness, forensic pathologist, Dr Vaprasat Patnic, from the Police Forensic Department who had performed the postmortem.
Patnic indicated that the injury to the deceased was inflicted before death and a sharp object was used which resulted in the choking of the infant.
“There were no abnormalities to the deceased and the nature of the injuries were not accidental, but were inflicted by someone,” said the Doctor.
Seleme’s defense lawyer, Mr Sikhumbuzo Masuku, brought to the court’s attention that it would be fair to say that the accused caused the death of the deceased, but the court should note that the accused laid evidence that she was depressed. He further brought to the court’s attention that such depression might have contributed to this unlawful act and stated that it was not her intention to commit such a crime.
Masuku also pointed out that the circumstances of birth could have led to an imbalance of the mind, adding that the accused was only referred to a psychiatrist a year after the incident.
He suggested that Section 208 of the penal code would be appropriate for the judgment of the accused since it was not her intention to kill.
Judgment and sentence are to be handed down on the 3rd of October 2008.