A man and woman are on trial in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg where they are accused of abusing their minor children so severely that their son died and daughter suffered several injuries over a long period of time.
Gauteng National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Phindi Louw said on Wednesday that the charges between the pair include murder, attempted murder, child abuse, and a failure to provide medical care.
They cannot be named to protect the identities of their children.
Anti-abuse group, Women And Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) said the case involved an 8-year-old girl who was admitted to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital late last year for several injuries which were found to have been sustained at different times over a long period.
"During a forensic examination of her injuries, it was discovered that she had a half-brother who had also been abused. The doctors were looking for a boy, aged 4 to 6 years, with similar injuries," WMACA's Miranda Jordan said in a statement this week.
"They were then able to identify a male child with the same pattern of injuries, who came in at a different time and with possibly a different surname, but they uncovered that the children were indeed related," she added.
The girl alleged that the injuries were caused by her stepfather, who is one of the accused on trial.
In addition, the she alleged that she had watched her stepfather beat her half-brother – his biological son – to death.
"The findings on his forensic skeletal survey were disturbing. Fingers and bones crushed, all during repeated beatings. On top of multiple injuries caused by abuse, he had sustained head trauma which eventually caused his death.
"We are outraged and also heartbroken by the continued unabated abuse of children in our country – especially by those who are meant to protect them," Jordan added.
The anti-abuse group also questioned where the extended family members were at the time of the alleged abuse and why there was no intervention.
As a result, WMACA says it is resolute in its campaign to have Section 110 of the Children's Act amended to make it compulsory for people to report child abuse they may be aware of.
"The other prong of this campaign would be that law enforcement [officers] need to be properly trained to know how to deal with such reports and to act on them.
"Far too often we are confronted by members of the public who try to report [matter], but are given the runaround at every point, from welfare organisations right through to police. This has to change," Jordan said.
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