'Relatives should flag child abuse'

Child justice groups say relatives have a duty to act against suspected child abusers.

Baby Wade's parents Marissa Rudman and Nolan Schoeman in the North Gauteng High Court. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

PRETORIA - Child justice groups say close relatives and friends have a duty to act against the people they suspect are abusing their children before it's too late.

The advice comes after the North Gauteng High Court sentenced Marissa Rudman and Nolan Schoeman to 10 and 11 years in jail for murdering their two-month-old son.

Baby Wade died in hospital in 2009 after sustaining severe head injuries, broken arms and rib fractures.

Miranda Friedman from Women and Men Against Child Abuse said in her experience, many of the people convicted of abuse were young, struggling adults.

"Grandparents and siblings of these young parents would be there to support them and if they can see they are struggling with this child, and that this child is probably going to be abused, they actually seek help."

Rudman and Schoeman were both abusing drugs at the time they beat baby Wade to death.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius found the fact that the couple abused drugs were mitigating circumstances when she sentenced them.

The judge also considered that both were raised in abusive homes and were struggling financially.

Friedman said Rudman and Schoeman fit the profile of abusive parents.

"These parents are young, quite dysfunctional, already come from dysfunctional and abusive homes and are really not coping with life."

The Child Abuse Action Group's Lucy Redivo said the sentence imposed on the couple is too lenient, adding that they should have received life sentences.