Baby's injuries signs of abuse - expert

Relates to:
Date: 2008-04-10
Source: ioL

By Botho Molosankwe

Another doctor has testified that the injuries sustained by Baby Tammy, and to which she later succumbed, were a classical case of child abuse.

Professor Gert Saayman, a forensic pathology lecturer at the University of Pretoria, testified at the Johannesburg magistrate's court on Wednesday that head injuries accompanied by multiple fractures were signs of abuse.

"There is an inescapable conclusion that you are dealing with something like child abuse," he said.

Saayman has written many articles on the subject, including Physical Abuse in Children (Non-Accidental Injury Syndrome), published in 2003.

At the time of her death, Tammy had bruises and fractures on her head, collarbone, elbow and ribs, a ruptured liver, internal bleeding and swelling on the brain.
Asked what could have triggered a person to batter a child, Saayman identified unwanted pregnancies and marital problems as some of the known causes. He said step parents or adoptive parents have been known to batter their children.

Tammy's mother listened intently to the doctor's testimony.

Zaibunisha Herman and her husband Donovan adopted the child in 2004.

In her testimony on Monday, she told the court that she and Donovan had marital problems because of his infidelity.

After years of trying, Zaibunisha, who has a son from a previous relationship, battled to fall pregnant.

The couple adopted the then one-month-old Tammy in 2004.

Although Zaibunisha said Tammy was a healthy child, the toddler died of multiple injuries in January 2006.

Even though Zaibunisha was arrested and charged with the murder of her child, she pleaded not guilty.

Saayman said that because of the flexibility of children's ribs, it was not possible that Tammy could have fractured her ribs in a fall.

The case was postponed to June 19


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