EXCLUSIVE: Mother of alleged abused baby speaks

Botha sitting next to her baby's empty carry cot.
Botha sitting next to her baby's empty carry cot.

Christene Botha, 23, gives her side of the story after posts on Facebook surfaced that the father of her baby boy allegedly abused him to the point where he is fighting for his life. Her baby was born on 14 January.

Botha told the Herald her baby – whom the Herald will call Peter to protect his identity – was healthy when he was born in Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital, weighing 3,5 kilograms.

She has been married to Robert Putter, 26, for eight years and they have three children together. Last year, after living in Cape Town for a while, she moved back to Gauteng owing to financial constraints, but Putter stayed behind. While in Gauteng, she got involved with Peter’s alleged father, 26, whom the Herald will call Jones.

Botha described her relationship with Jones as violent and abusive, alleging while she was pregnant he kicked her, pulled her hair and causing carpet burns to her body.

He allegedly called her derogative names and said he wished “the baby would die”.

Jones allegedly was a crystal meth addict, and that when he came down from his high, he became violent towards her. Putter returned from Cape Town, knowing about her abusive relationship with Jones and that she was pregnant. However, he did not know who the father was. No blood tests were done, so it was never determined whether Peter’s biological father was Putter or Jones. Botha said she always believed Peter’s father to be Jones.

Botha was living with Putter and his mom at the time of Peter’s birth, and Putter gave her his unconditional support. During that time Jones still visited Botha. When he invited her and the baby to spend an evening with him, she found they had nowhere to sleep, leaving her to make a plan while he went off gambling.

A week after Peter was born, their relationship ended. On Monday 8 February Botha walked to Jones’ mother’s place of employment to ask her if she knew where he was, and also to ask for some financial help. She learned that his mother allegedly resigned, and was told to look for her at a family member’s house.

Botha found Jones’ mother who asked her if Peter could stay with her until 6pm that evening, as she was going to Rustenburg, and probably would not see Peter again.

Botha agreed, and when she returned to fetch him at 6pm, Jones’ mother asked her if Peter could not spend the night. Botha allegedly was promised that Jones’ mom would take the baby to her house, and spend time with him there. There was no sign of Jones, and Botha agreed.

The next morning as she walked to fetch Peter, she found Jones next to the road. He allegedly asked her what had happened to Peter’s lip. At the family member’s house, Jones brought Peter outside in a pram. Botha immediately saw Peter’s swollen lip. She knew something had happened, as she had left Peter with Jones’ mom in perfect health.

Jones’ mom was nowhere to be seen, and Jones kept on saying he would calm down the baby and she should not touch him. Botha realised that Peter was with Jones the whole night and he refused any help from the three women who also stayed in the house.

They allegedly said Peter was crying constantly, and at a stage they saw Jones furiously trying to calm Peter. Botha told Jones they should go to the clinic immediately. While walking through the mall, she secretly tried to phone for help.

When they got to the clinic, her husband Putter also arrived. They had a brief argument. While the clinic sisters were examining Peter, they asked about the bruises on Botha’s arm, but she lied as she was scared of Jones. When the sisters asked Jones what had happened to the baby, he allegedly became aggressive.

According to Botha he even had a knife with him. When the sister said they should call the police and ambulance, Jones disappeared. That was the last Botha saw or heard from him. Peter was transported to a nearby state hospital, where, according to Botha, he was not examined properly and the doctor did not complete the required J88 form for the police. On the same day, Peter was sent home with Botha and was given only Panado syrup and antibiotics for his lip.

That evening Peter cried constantly, appeared nervous and aside from his lip, Botha found various blue marks across his body. On Wednesday Botha and her mother-in-law, Brenda Williams-Ludick went back to the hospital, where they had an argument with the staff, since Peter started getting seizures.

On the Friday when Botha returned to the hospital she found Peter had been transferred to another state hospital, without her knowledge. The doctor at the second hospital told Botha the previous hospital had waited too long before transporting Peter to them. It was confirmed that he had blood on his brain.

That day, Peter’s heart and breathing stopped. He was resuscitated, but after that he was not the same. On the Saturday Peter’s condition deteriorated and the next day doctors told Botha and Putter that Peter’s heartbeat was weakening, he was breathing with the help of a ventilator and his brain function was weakening.

The hospital is keeping him on life support until a final decision is reached on Wednesday. Botha has opened a case of child abuse against Jones. Although he allegedly is in hiding, he has been spotted in Randfontein, Randburg and Rustenburg.

The family would like to thank the community for all their help and prayers.

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Also read:

Baby-abuse allegations surface

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  AUTHOR
Maritza van Zyl
Journalist

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