MELICE Jacobs, accused of murder and concealment of birth, after dead babies were found in freezers at her Mthatha home, yesterday told the court the babies were hers.
She had kept the bodies for up to five years, she said, after having miscarriages due to beatings by her longtime boyfriend, who is now dead.
Jacobs, 30, told the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court she had endured years of abuse. Her miscarriages, she said, were caused by the severity of the beatings.
She said she would plead not guilty to the charges.
Jacobs’s evidence suggested that she conceived seven times over 10 years. Three of the children – aged five, seven and 10 – are alive. She claimed to have had miscarriages in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
In testimony yesterday, Jacobs said: “He would punch me and kick me on the ribs and my back and head. This had been going on for many, many years. It started shortly after I gave birth to my first child, a son, in 2004.
“I have never told anyone of it except his mother and grandmother. It is because of the beatings that I had these miscarriages. I never killed them,” Jacobs said.
She said she had not reported the abuse to the police or to her own parents.
“He even beat me in full view of our children. At times, the little ones would try to hug me to protect me, but he would take them away forcefully and continue with the beating.”
Jacobs said her boyfriend, buried a few weeks ago, would beat her when he was drunk.
Despite the abusive relationship, Jacobs said she loved her boyfriend of 13 years, who died in her arms on February 2.
She asked to be granted bail to allow her and her children time to mourn their father and to celebrate her youngest son, who turned five yesterday.
Jacobs cried as she spoke of the trauma she had suffered. Court proceedings were postponed twice during her two hours in the dock.
Jacobs told the court that she was 18 when she dropped out of school and gave birth to a son on January 28 2004.
“Soon after, the abuse started and became more severe as the years went by.” Prosecutor Luthando Feni read out the results of the postmortems, saying that two of the babies were 35 to 36 weeks old, another was 21 weeks old and another 32 weeks old.
“One of them died of strangulation, two died of hypothermia and one was an abortion,” Feni told the court.
Jacobs’s lawyer, Mpumelelo Notununu, said his client had travelled from Johannesburg to Mthatha knowing she would be arrested and yet did not flee. The state opposed bail. Magistrate Nompumelelo Bango reserved judgment until March 12.