‘Alcohol-abuse killed the baby’



October 13, 2016
‘Alcohol-abuse killed the baby’

Abraham Bothman, 35

Convicted child abuser gets a community-based sentence after court 'couldn't find beyond a reasonable doubt he hurt the child with intent'.

This Montagu farmworker looked relieved as he was sentenced to correctional supervision on Thursday for abusing a one-month-old baby.

Abraham Bothman, 35, was acquitted of murder by Western Cape High Court Acting Judge Sakkie van Staden in June, but found guilty of child abuse.

He was immediately released on bail of R500 after having awaited trial behind bars for two years.

The case focussed on the short life of baby Atnik Persent who was born on March 25, 2014, and died on April 24.

A pathologist found that every bone in the baby’s body had been broken, and he had been “chronically abused”.

The baby’s mother, Simonia Persent, had met Bothman a few months into her pregnancy and gave birth when she was 16 years old. The two had started a relationship and lived together on a farm in Montagu.

The court found that Persent had the intellectual capacity of a nine-year-old.

The acting judge said it was clear that she abused alcohol and found it tragic that she had been “left to her own devices when she was not capable of raising a child”.

He said Bothman should have stepped in as the most responsible person in the household, but instead he too had abused alcohol and had handled baby Atnik when he was drunk.

Van Staden added Bothman had purposefully neglected the child and had shown no remorse. He had also minimised his part in the infant’s death, although he had admitted he was negligent. “He should have phoned an ambulance or taken him to a doctor.”

The judge said it was tragic that the infant had died “in such a gruesome manner and nobody will be held accountable for it”.

“The court couldn’t find beyond a reasonable doubt that Bothman hurt the child with intent,” Van Staden said.

One of the conditions of Bothman’s sentence prohibits him from consuming alcohol and social workers will check on him once a month.

In the summing up of the sentence, the judge said: “Everybody must stop drinking.”

Bothman was given a two-year suspended sentence. He will be under house arrest from 7pm until 8am, unless he attends church, anger management classes or does community service during that time.

Bothman left court smiling.

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