No bail for mom of slain child

Woman convicted for role in little boy’s death flouted previous restrictions

A Johannesburg woman and her boyfriend have been convicted for their roles in her child's death
A Johannesburg woman and her boyfriend have been convicted for their roles in her child's death

The mother of murdered three-year-old toddler Daniel* has been denied bail pending her sentencing on two counts of child abuse and neglect, with the presiding judge chastising her for breaking previous bail conditions.

The child’s body was found by paramedics at his home in Naturena, in southern Johannesburg , in June 2016, covered in burns he sustained in boiling hot bath water.

Last month, Maryke Cloete* and her boyfriend, Tim Naidoo*, were convicted in the High Court in Johannesburg for their roles in the child’s death.

Naidoo was convicted on charges of child abuse and murder, as judge Collin Matshitse agreed with a state forensic pathologist who believed Naidoo had probably held the child under the hot bath water as the final act in a series of abuse incidents.

Cloete was found guilty on two counts of abuse and neglect for turning a blind eye to the ongoing attacks.

On Thursday, Cloete applied for bail as she awaits sentencing proceedings, claiming through an affidavit that if denied her temporary freedom, she would be unable to financially provide for her family.

Two of her three surviving children are in a children’s home. The third child is living with a relative.

While Cloete insisted she was not a flight risk, the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Stephen Joubert, thought otherwise.

The state submitted an affidavit from Joubert detailing how Cloete had repeatedly broken her bail conditions.

Cloete had failed to inform him she had changed both her address and place of employment, flouting the restrictions initially set by the court.

He said Cloete had also travelled to Port Elizabeth without his consent, despite being barred from leaving Gauteng without express permission.

He also revealed that Cloete's mother had taken the children out of the place of safety for a day visit in mid-December, and had made a video call where Cloete was able to speak with them. Because of this, he said, he was planning to open a case of obstruction of justice against both of them.

Cloete’s defence advocate, Ruan Hollamby, denied Joubert’s claims, particularly concerning the phone call to the two children, and insisted Cloete had informed the officer of her planned trip to Port Elizabeth.

However, Matshitse was not swayed by Hollamby’s arguments, saying on Friday morning the mother had failed to prove any exceptional circumstances required to grant her bail.

“Looking at all the facts, and also as far as the applicant's personal circumstances are concerned, they are commonplace and not out of the ordinary,” he said.

He was also critical of Cloete's attempts to suggest there was a likelihood she could get a non-custodial sentence or a fine.

The judge said that while the serious crimes of which she had been convicted could potentially be punished with a fine, she could also face 10 years in prison.

“She has a tendency to breach the conditions of her bail; she shows that she does not have any confidence in the investigating officer, who is supposed to monitor her while on bail,” he said.

The bail application was subsequently denied, with sentencing proceedings set down for later in January.

*Not their real names, which have been withheld to protect the identities of the surviving children.