Court puts ‘abusive’ step mommy on defence

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The Lusaka-based wife of a soldier accused of torturing her four-year old stepson while his father was away on duty has been put on her defence by the Lusaka Magistrates Court.

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The ruling came in after the final State witness, an orthopaedist testified that the whip marks on the four-year old’s body were not as a result of an accident but abuse.

Doctor Brian Ngoma who operates from the University teaching hospital said non-accidental trauma which the boy was diagnosed with may be as a result of physical abuse, sexual and emotional abuse or neglect.

He disclosed that the child was also malnourished according to the Body Mass Index examination.

In this matter Ngosa is charged with one count of assault on a child which attracts a sentence of five years.

Testifying before magistrate Mutinya Mwenya Dr Ngoma said on August 14, 2023 the four year old was taken to the paediatric department by caregivers for medical examination on suspicion that he was physically abused.

He said he asked two senior consultants, James Mulenga, head of department and Doctor Josephine Mwamba Mulenga head of orthopaedics to witness him examine the child from head to toe.

Dr Ngoma said prior to making a diagnosis he recorded an orthopaedic history.

He said he noticed that the boy’s left leg was shorter than the right leg and he had healed abrasion wounds that affected his face, upper and lower limbs as well as the front and back of his little body.

“He(survivor) had a deformed left forearm which had callus, this is a tissue that is formed when a bone is broken or fractured,” Dr Ngoma said.

“We did an examination for body mass index to measure the height and weight. The BMI was 13.8 which is below the normal. We went further to do the mid upper arm circumference which was about 16cm indicating a normal range. Investigations were ordered including radiographic and digital xray of the spine, ribs, upper limbs and lower limbs as well as the pelvis.”

He said the four year old had a joint shift in the upper limb (nightstick fracture) which is an isolated ulnar).

“There was bending of the tibia. Owing to the curving we had speculations which were not conclusive. He had an Ulnar bone fracture and the knee joint of the left lower limb, underwent remodelling. On the tibia, there is increased curving,” the Orthopaedist explained.

“On the knee joint, there is a widening and irregularity which shows a fracture which had already healed.”

The orthopaedist said the child had healed abrasions all over his body, a deformity on the arm and healed laceration on the upper eye.

“We wrote a medical report and the summary was; underweight four year old male child with generalised scarification marks, a short limb gait with a limb length discrepancy of 2cm. There was a deformity on the left forearm and X-rays showing fractures at different levels of healing,” said Dr Ngoma.

“The features were non accidental trauma caused by physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect.”

At this point State prosecutor Malama Chisenga indicated that the prosecution had closed its case.

Asked if she had questions for the orthopaedist in cross examination, Longwe indicated that she could not interrogate the medical personnel.

Magistrate Mwenya made an extempore ruling and placed the accused on her defence as the State had made a strong case against her hence she needs to give her side of the story.

The ‘abusive’ mommy will open her defence on
February 7, 2024.

By Mwaka Ndawa

Kalemba January 25, 2024.

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