Mom blames slip in bath for baby’s death

Relates to:
Date: 2006-02-19

Mom blames slip in bath for baby’s death

19 February 2006

THE mother of 21-month-old Tammy Herman, the victim of what has been described as one of the country’s worst child abuse cases, has made a sworn statement that the baby was injured after slipping in a bath.

Little Tammy suffered 12 broken ribs, a bleeding liver and brain damage before dying in hospital a month ago.

Police Area Commissioner Oswald Reddy said a pathologist would visit the Herman home in Ridgeway, south of Johannesburg, to inspect the bath.

Police believe this could verify claims by doctors, social workers and a pathologist that a fall in the bath could not explain her injuries.

“The investigation is at a very advanced stage,” said Reddy.

“I love children and I’m really very disappointed and upset that something like that can happen to an innocent child.

“But we can’t make emotional decisions. When we make an arrest, we want a watertight case,” Reddy said.

A paediatrician at Garden City Clinic, Dr Lucia Singh, who last saw Tammy when she treated her for tonsillitis in August last year, said she had not detected any signs of child abuse at the time.

“Although I didn’t see bruises, the child was dark-skinned, so it would have been easy to miss.”

A year before Tammy’s death, Singh had handled a similar case, a three-month-old boy rushed to hospital by his biological parents.

“If we’d left the three-month-old in the care of his parents, he would have died, guaranteed. He had multiple healed and healing fractures, 14 altogether, and blood on the brain and in the eyes.”

Singh said the injuries in the two cases were similar, although Tammy’s were fatal.

“She was bruised and with multiple fractures and was having fits when she arrived [in hospital]. She was already critical then and was only kept alive on the ventilator. She was so unstable on admission they couldn’t do a brain scan. She bled to death,” she said.

Meanwhile, Tammy’s father, Donovan Herman, has told the Sunday Times he would give anything to have her alive.

Speaking for the first time about the death of the girl he and his wife, Zaibonisa, adopted when she was just four months old, he said: “If anyone is upset, I think I am the most. Because I well and truly loved my daughter and I would give anything to have her back ... I would ... I would.”

Herman was interviewed as the investigation began to focus on his wife. He said: “We’re waiting for the cops to come back with some sort of answer ... so that I can try and make sense of all of this ... I am being guided by what the police are saying. Until the investigation has been finalised, I am just as much in the dark.”

Confronted with the allegation that he had had an affair with another woman, with whom he had a biological child, Herman did not deny it, but said: “I’ve got nothing to comment and nothing to add until the police investigation has been completed.”


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