Windhoek High Court Judge Claudia Claasen yesterday sentenced a 30-year-old woman convicted for murdering her baby to an effective jail term of 28 years.
Judge Claasen had convicted Priscilla Stuurman of murder with direct intent, read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, for the death of her six-month-old baby boy Stiaan Cidio Stuurman. Baby Stiaan died at hospital on 24 December 2019 as a result of traumatic head injuries.
“The State has proven that the accused flung and hit the deceased on the floor multiple times, causing injuries that resulted in his death. The court found that despite there being no eyewitness, there is, however, evidence that Stuurman did not want the baby and threatened to kill him. There is also evidence of abandonment” the judge stated.
During the trial, it was revealed that on 23 December 2019 at Aussenkehr in the //Kharas region, Stuurman told witnesses she would kill baby Stiaan, and she further refused to breastfeed the infant. According to the judge, murder is a serious offence that would attract a custodial sentence automatically, and the length is determined by the gravity and circumstances of the offence. In this instance, the judge said, the victim was the biological son of the accused, which is aggravating as she was supposed to love and protect him. The judge remarked that the cause of death was a “smashed skull”, with the middle part fractured from ear to ear, while the skull was fractured in several places.
“It was a severe onslaught on a defenceless baby of just six months old, who could not defend himself, and that happened just one day before his first Christmas on earth,” Claasen said.
“It is aggravating that Baby Stiaan did not lose his life at the hands of a stranger, but at the hands of his own mother who was supposed to love, care and protect him until he could fend for his own”.
She added that it emerged during court proceedings that Stuurman had assaulted the baby on previous occasions, and regularly threatened to kill him. “You followed a repertoire of cruelty and violence towards the baby, which is a shame,” the judge said, observing that it was a callous and cold-blooded murder. According to the judge, the courts have to speak up on behalf of children silenced by cruel and callous parents.
“Society’s values are denigrated when parents kill their children, and courts have to intercede to stop this horrendous phenomenon, and the only way is to impose deterrent sentences,” the judge said. She said she weighed the personal circumstances of Stuurman against the brutality of the murder, the fact that it was a defenceless baby of six months, and the interests of society to come to a just sentence. Stuurman was defended by Milton Engelbrecht, on instructions of Legal Aid, and the State by Taodago Gaweseb.