The High Court in Francistown sentenced, on October 3, a 25-year-old woman to 6 years imprisonment on a charge of infanticide.
Winani Seleme of Maxobotai, Letlhakane in the Boteti Sub- District, appeared before Justice Zibani Makwhade for the alleged murder of her new born baby on 3rd of January, 2005.
It is alleged that the accused headed for the bush with her four year old daughter 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 and discovered what appeared to be a placenta.
After interrogating Seleme, the relative was led to the bush where the body of a baby girl was exhumed. The matter was then reported to the police who then arrested the accused.
The postmortem results indicated that the baby died due to chocking from blood caused by a cut in the throat. In Seleme’s confession statement, she said that she gave birth in the bush unassisted. Her parents and relatives were unaware that she was pregnant since her man had disappeared and, therefore, she had kept the secret to herself.
She tried to separate the baby’s umbilical chord from her with a razor blade and she said she did not recall what happened after the incident. She had informed the court that the baby was no longer crying but it was in a pool of blood. Seleme further mentioned that she then hid the baby in a hole to protect it from dogs.
She then headed home but felt that there was still something inside her that was about to come out and it turned out to be a placenta/afterbirth which led to the relative’s curiosity upon discovery.
Standing for the accused, Mr Sikhumbuzo Masuku had prayed to the court to consider the fact that the accused committed the crime in an imbalanced state of mind, since she was under depression, and said that she gave birth unassisted which could have led her to perform such an act. Masuku further pointed out that she was referred to a psychiatrist only a year after the incident.
State Counsel, Rabosotho, had brought to the court’s attention that the accused had inflicted the injuries to the deceased with malicious intent, and imbalance of the mind was just an after thought.
Winani Seleme was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment (4 years wholly suspended for three years on condition that during the period of suspension she is not convicted of any offence related to violence to a child) for infanticide.