Baby L's abuser sentenced to 10 years

Baby L sustained broken bones and significant internal injuries when she was abused in December 2013.

FILE: Judge Nico Coetzee lambasted the 36-year-old man, saying he showed no remorse for his actions. Picture: RSC Inc.

JOHANNESBURG - A Pretoria man convicted for abusing his girlfriend's two-year-old child has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

The two-year-old, known as Baby L, sustained broken bones and significant internal injuries when she was abused in December 2013.

Judge Nico Coetzee lambasted the 36-year-old man, saying he showed no remorse for his actions.

Coetzee said the sentence handed down to him should send out a strong message that the abuse of women and children will not be tolerated.

Baby L's mother was acquitted last Friday after the judge found she did not know her daughter was being abused.

Coetzee accepted medical evidence that Baby L was abused, hit on the head with an object, and hit in the abdomen with an object like a broomstick.

He found the mother's boyfriend had also left the child in a bath while he went out shopping and she almost drowned.

The mother testified that she couldn't remember what bruises her child had sustained which the judge said was unsurprising, because she seemingly didn't care about her daughter.

But Coetzee found no evidence that the woman had allowed her boyfriend to assault the child and was probably unaware of the abuse.

The toddler is now being cared for in a place of safety and is unable to feed herself, walk or talk.

At the same time, the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect has welcomed the sentence handed down to the man.

The organisation's Joan van Niekerk says although the sentence is adequate, remedial action for the perpetrator is also needed.

"It would be very helpful if our courts looked at how we can prevent this man, when he is released, from dong this again. I would like someone who has worked in this field for many years to see more sentences with a remedial component to them."