5-year jail term for crèche worker filmed assaulting toddlers

Nellie Senwametsi has been jailed for assaulting children at a Carletonville crèche.
Nellie Senwametsi has been jailed for assaulting children at a Carletonville crèche.
Image: Screengrab from the original video

A Carletonville caregiver who was filmed beating children at the crèche where she was employed was on Tuesday sentenced to five years in jail for assault.

Nellie Senwametsi, who used to work at the Ninnies Neurons Nursery School, had been found guilty of two counts of common assault and one of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

The three videos, which surfaced in April 2019, sparked outrage as they showed Senwametsi smacking the children on the buttocks, repeatedly slapping them on their heads and hitting them with a wooden scrubbing brush on different occasions.

Magistrate Jan Steyn handed down the sentence in the Oberholzer magistrate's court on Tuesday. He declared Senwametsi, 42, unsuitable to work with children and her name will be entered in the children offenders list.

In handing down the sentence, the magistrate deviated from the prescribed minimum sentence of 10 years because, he said, Senwametsi was remorseful and intended to apologise to the families but was denied access to them due to bail conditions imposed.

Earlier, the court heard that one of the minors who was assaulted has become a “problem child” and is now aggressive.

This was according to prosecutor Juliette Makgwatha, who argued for a direct imprisonment sentence for Senwametsi, who was caught on camera.

“The four-year-old was potty-trained before the incident but he is wetting himself. He has become aggressive and his teacher said he is a problem child who bullies other children,” she said.

Makgwatha was speaking in reference to a victim impact report that was submitted in court but was not read out.

In relation to another minor victim, Makgwatha said: “The 18-month-old toddler was described as happy, bubbly and warm. She loved people, but she is now withdrawn and reserved. She doesn’t want to be touched on her head because of the assault.

“All is not well with these children and their parents have to work harder to deal with the stress this incident has caused them.”


Makgwatha was responding to Anton Fick, Senwametsi’s lawyer.

In his argument for mitigating circumstances, Fick pleaded with the court to impose a suspended sentence with correctional supervision.

Fick argued Senwametsi showed remorse by pleading guilty to the offences and this spared her victims the trauma associated with testifying in court and reliving the ordeal.

He said Senwametsi was also willing to provide evidence that could lead to the prosecution of others in relation to the matter.

“She wanted to contact the families in order to apologise for her actions but she could not do that because her bail conditions prohibited this act. She did not waste the court’s time and admitted to her offence,” Fick said.

He argued that no long-lasting physical injuries were reported and that the children will recover from the emotional distress caused by the incident.

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