“I called his name; he looked up at me and sighed his last breath.”
Rashieda Landis recalled the last moments of a five-year-old boy’s life after he was allegedly severely beaten by his father on Thursday night.
Landis‚ a ward councillor of Chrisville‚ south of Johannesburg‚ said that the boy’s father reacted casually to the traumatic event.
“He [the father] was very casual. So casual – after he kicked that baby and smashed him against the wall. He [the boy] had cigarette burns all over his body‚” Landis said.
“I was with him when he died. I saw his face and I immediately knew he had been beaten.”
She said that the father had just come out of jail for beating the boy.
“Last night I asked: ‘Is he on parole’. He wasn’t.
“This guy [the boy’s father] was arrested six months ago for beating his child. The father’s sister and I laid a case against him.
“Three months later his sister had dropped the charges against him.
“His sister went to [Westgate] Court and the judge actually allowed it [the charges to be dropped].”
The councillor‚ who also works as a social worker in the area‚ said that the boy’s father had been a drug addict but was drug free while in prison.
She said that the man also had a three-year-old daughter who told Landis how her brother was beaten.
“I want to get into how and why he did what he [the father] did.
“He [the father] sat there and rubbed the child’s foot and told me the child would be ok – by that time the boy was already dead‚” Landis said.
ER24 spokesperson Annine Siddall said that a paramedic went to South Rand Hospital in her personal capacity after she heard that the boy had been transported there‚ but the boy had already been declared dead by the hospital.
“The paramedic said that the boy had been dead for two or three hours by the time she got to the hospital at around 7pm.
“She [the paramedic] said that the boy had severe injuries and his whole body was covered in bruises.”
Siddall said that the paramedic suspected that the boy died of internal bleeding.
Lundis said that the boy’s mother lived in Bloemfontein and had given custody of the child to his paternal grandmother‚ but that the child ultimately ended up in the care of his father and the father’s girlfriend.
According to Lundis‚ the boy’s father kept the abuse from his girlfriend.
“He wouldn’t allow her [his girlfriend] to feed and clothe the child. He did everything himself.
“It was only last night [Thursday] when she [the girlfriend] saw his [the boy’s] beaten face that she called the neighbours.
“By the time the neighbours called me…” her voice trailed off as she recalled the memory.
“You must see his little body broken. The neighbours called me saying he was having a fit.
“In my many years of doing community work‚ this is the first time I broke down.
“I helped him the first time‚ but I couldn’t help him this time. I am shattered‚ angry and [I feel] let down by justice system. It is murder.”
Lundis said that she would need to get counselling herself.
“The first time the baby was beaten I grabbed him and ran with him to the police.
“Afterwards he said to me: ‘Auntie‚ when everything is over can you come fetch me.’ I never got to see him again before last night.”
The boy’s father has been arrested.