By Jonk wa Mashamba
A couple appeared before the Klerksdorp Magistrates’ Court on a charge of murder and five of contravening the Children’s Act.
This follows the death of their four months old baby who allegedly died of complications of malnutrition. The case was postponed to 17 January 2022 for further investigations.
Advocate Riekie Kraus registered the state’s intention to transfer the matter to the High Court of South Africa; North West Division. An indictment will be sent to the office of the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions in the North West to authorise the transfer.
Seun Joubert (44) and Isabelle Francis (35), a couple from Alabama near Klerksdorp are said to have stayed together for 15 years and have two boys aged 2 and five as well as two girls aged 8 and 13.
It is alleged that in May 2021, Francis was arrested for assaulting her two-year-old boy, but was later released as she was at that time breastfeeding the deceased who was born on 24 April 2021.
Police reported the incident to the NW Department of Social Development for social workers to intervene. The intervention led to four of the kids being placed under the care of their maternal grandmother.
According to Henry Mamothame
NPA Spokesperson, in September 2021, Francis was arrested again for assaulting her 13-year-old daughter at her mother’s house.
She allegedly hit her with clenched fists, kicked her before throwing her on the ground and stomping her afterwards. She went on to assault her mother.
“Police investigations into this assault led them to a discovery of the four months old baby having died on 13 August 2021 in Klerksdorp hospital.
“This information was declared by Leon Francis, the uncle to Isabelle Francis. These investigations further discovered that in June 2021 Francis forcefully took back her two sons from her mother to stay with her and Jourbert.
“The uncle alleges to have reported this incident to the designated social worker, who in turn promised to do house visits to the accused,” said Mamothame.
A report received from the social worker indicates that on 09 August 2021 when he took some groceries to the house of the accused, he found the two-year-old boy in a bad state of health, with sores all over his face.
He then went back the following day and to his shock, the couple had left the four-month-old baby by herself, lying on the bed without a blanket. He alleges the baby looked emaciated. He then rushed to collect his wife to assist him with the baby before taking her home with them.
“On 10 August 2021, the social worker and his wife took the baby to Klerksdorp hospital where she was immediately admitted. She sadly died three days later and the attending pediatrician confirmed that she died of complications of malnutrition as she was not fed adequately,” Mamothame said.
Police investigations are continuing on the matter and two of the children will be assessed by forensic social workers.
Francis was arrested on 16 September 2021 and Joubert on 21 October 2021 and they were both charged for murder and five other counts.
The court denied them bail and they will remain in police custody until the completion of the trial.