There will be nothing that the defense can bring to court this week that could possibly exonerate Rochelle Botha and her ex-fiancé, Stefan van Niekerk, for the brutal abuse and murder of two-year-old Chevonne Rusch.
So says Moira Kloppers, spokesperson for Action Society, who oversees the case. The defense began presenting its case today in the Palm Ridge High Court in Gauteng.
Botha moved into the witness stand. Her legal representative took her under cross-examination and afterwards Adv. Riana Williams, the public prosecutor, cross-examined her.
The case adjourned and the cross-examination will continue tomorrow. The witness is still under oath.
Botha and Van Niekerk are on trial for the murder of Chevonne on 11 May last year. Botha is Chevonne’s biological mother.
The two are also charged with assault and rape.
RNews reported earlier that the post-mortem examination indicates that trauma to the toddler’s skull is the cause of her death.
The post-mortem examination found that Chevonne had suffered deep scalp bleeding with underlying intracranial bleeding in the cerebral cortex (ie bleeding on the brain). There were also no internal injuries.
Dr. Emefa Abra Apatu, the pathologist who conducted the post-mortem examination, testified earlier that the toddler had a total of 49 wounds, bruises, abrasions and scars all over her body.
According to Apatu, most of these injuries were sustained within the span of a few hours to a day before her death. In her testimony, she referred to it as “fresh wounds”.
The injuries were evident on the toddler’s face, scalp, arms, abdominal wall, lower back, legs and feet.
‘Wake up call for others’
According to Kloppers, Chevonne’s case should serve as a wake-up call for everyone.
“Every parent, family member, family friend, carer, teacher and member of the public who has ever witnessed or knows of any form of child abuse should take note: If you fail to report abuse or if you fail to protect an abused child or assist, you are just as guilty as the one who committed the act of violence,” says Kloppers.
“We lost a total of 293 children to murder in the first quarter of this year. That’s three children a day. Every day, four children narrowly escape death from attempted murder. Every day 16 children are assaulted with the intention of causing serious injury. Don’t tell me no one noticed or suspected it. We are all responsible for saving our children.”
Read more about the case here.