By Sandiso Phaliso for GroundUp
The charges against a 22-year-old woman from Langa, who is accused of having poured boiling water over a toddler, have been increased to attempted murder.
The woman’s application for bail was rejected in a packed Bishop Lavis Magistrate’s Court on Friday. She has not yet entered a plea to the charges against her.
Four-year-old Unako Khala suffered severe burns to his chest, arm and ribcage on June 24. The neighbors said he was swinging at a gate when the woman suddenly poured boiling water over him. The woman was on trial on charges of assault with intent to seriously injure, but the public prosecutor has now confirmed that she is on trial on charges of attempted murder.
The incident sparked anger and about 1,000 people marched on the Langa police station on 6 July.
Unako is recovering at home after receiving treatment at the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital for Children in Cape Town.
Fuzile Shumi, lawyer for the accused, presented his client’s version of the events to the court on Friday. She claims she tripped while carrying boiling water in a kettle. According to her, she did not burn Unako on purpose. He said his client is a student who works part-time at a call centre.
Public prosecutor Phathutshedzo Muofhe said “the community is furious, and their anger is justified”. He said the accused would face a minimum sentence of five years in prison if she is found guilty. “This child will carry the scars for the rest of his life.”
Sgt. Investigating officer Louw told the court that she believed the accused’s actions were deliberate. “The gate had to be opened, because the gate is too high to pour water over”.
Magistrate Sean Lea turned down the application for bail and said the accused did not show any remorse. Moreover, her life may be in danger if she is released.
“Based on the number of people who attended the case last week and (Friday), public order will probably be disturbed if you are released on bail. Bail is denied,” Lea said.
Unako’s aunt, Yonela Mnyombolo, told GroundUp outside court that she was very satisfied with the outcome.
The case was adjourned until 20 September 2023.
- This post was originally published on GroundUp and is used here with permission.