Day mother denies child abuse
Jan Gerber, Beeld
Paarl – A day mother who stands accused of child abuse in the Paarl Regional Court, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted murder.
Jackie de Klerk, who was looking after Lucia Williams when she was injured so badly that she became brain damaged, admitted guilt only to spilling warm tea on Lucia.
De Klerk used her house in Gordon’s Bay as a day care centre. An unconscious Lucia was rushed to the Vergelegen Medi-Clinic on June 20 2007. She was then 11 months old.
De Klerk claimed Lucia was hurt when one of her own children fell on top of her with a jungle gym.
Shaken baby syndrome
But doctors who examined Lucia, said shaken baby syndrome was a possible cause of her injury.
One of the doctors, Jonathan Peter, professor-emeritus in neurosurgery at the University of Cape Town who works at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, on Monday testified that Lucia showed several symptoms of shaken baby syndrome.
When De Klerk’s legal representative, advocate Tobie Benad�, told him De Klerk’s version of events, he said it was highly unlikely and that he would be “very surprised” if that was the case.
Peter said a new theory regarding shaken baby syndrome stated that the brain damage was not caused by the baby’s brain hitting the skull, but by the brain stem being damaged. The brain stem controls breathing, which is affected and prevents the brain from getting oxygen.
Scientists suspect that is why in about 80% of cases, babies who suffer from shaken baby syndrome, become blue in the face. This also happened in Lucia’s case.
Lucia had also sustained a skull fracture between 31 May and 4 June 2007. According to Peter, brain scans that were taken after the accident showed no damage. It is being disputed in whose care Lucia was when she sustained these injuries.
The charge to which De Klerk admitted guilt, related to an incident on 13 June 2007, when Lucia sustained burns when De Klerk’s domestic helper brought her a cup of tea and Lucia grabbed at it, spilling it over both of them.
The case continues on Tuesday.