A 10-month-old baby girl was beaten to death, allegedly by her father, who apparently arrived home drunk and started beating his daughter when she refused to drink some juice he was trying to give her.
Mikaele Tsekiso Nkhaale, 29, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on a charge of murder. He was remanded to the Kimberley Prison, where he will remain in custody until his bail hearing.
Baby Samantha Ditsela, nicknamed Worteltjie, was declared brain dead in the Kimberley Hospital Complex’s ICU unit on Monday, which also happens to be the first day of the government’s “Child Protection Week” campaign.
Baby Ditsele was beaten in her parents’ shack in Freedom Park in Ritchie over the weekend.
According to the child’s 16-year-old mother, Theresa Ditsela, Nkhaale was drunk at the time and started hitting and kicking the baby after she refused to drink the juice.
“I tried to come between him and our baby but he then turned his anger towards me. He hit me with a broomstick over my head and across the face and my eye started bleeding. I ran to my neighbour and screamed for help.
“She called the ambulance and I went back to our shack, where I found Mikaele trying to resuscitate Samantha. Her body was limp and lifeless,” the distraught teenage mother, who had a blue eye and stitches, told reporters.
When the ambulance arrived at the scene the baby was taken to Kimberley Hospital Complex’s ICU unit, where she died two days later.
Police spokeswoman, Colonel Pricilla Naidu, said the father apparently became annoyed when the child refused to drink her juice.
“His anger became so intense that he allegedly started to kick and beat the child on her head. Prior to the incident, the couple was involved in an argument.”
She confirmed that Nkhaale was arrested on charges of murder early on Tuesday morning.
The baby’s grandmother, Sophie Ditsela, became very emotional on Wednesday at the thought of having lost her first grandchild. “I already miss her vibrant laugh and lovely face. She had a beautiful, full head of dark hair and a coffee-coloured skin. I can’t believe she is now gone.”
Neighbours in the Freedom Park area said the couple were often seen and heard arguing. “He once even hit her teeth out but she kept going back to him.”
The teenage mother, sitting on a stained blanket covering the bed where the incident took place, cradled a toy rattle and added that she could no longer live there.
“I tried to leave many times before, but he forced me to stay. He abused alcohol and often became very violent. I stayed as I never thought that he would hurt his own baby. I will now gather my few belongings and move in with my mother,” she said.
Naomi Dube, Director of Childline, Northern Cape, expressed her shock and disgust at the murder of a defenceless child, especially in the light of Child Protection Week.
“The sad reality is that vulnerable children, whether they are being celebrated or not, will continue to suffer at the hands of violent adults. Unfortunately our society has inherited a culture of violence. What we need is a complete paradigm shift on how we deal with anger and violent situations.
“We need to change our thinking. Especially men should realise that being caring does not mean they are effeminate. To care about others is a sign of humanity, it is what makes us human.”