Baby Daniel's mother denied bail ahead of sentencing

The mother of Baby Daniel is to remain behind bars after being denied bail.
The mother of Baby Daniel is to remain behind bars after being denied bail.
Image: Anurak Ponapatimet /123RF

The mother of murdered 3-year-old Baby Daniel* has been denied bail pending her sentencing on two counts of child abuse and neglect, with the presiding judge chastising her for breaking previous bail conditions.

The child’s corpse was found by paramedics at his Naturena home in June 2016, the majority of his body covered in burns he sustained in boiling bath water.

Last month, Maryke Cloete* and her boyfriend, Tim Naidoo*, were convicted for their roles in the death of the toddler at the High Court in Johannesburg. Naidoo was convicted on charges of child abuse and murder, as Judge Collin Matshitse sided with a state forensic pathologist who believed Naidoo had likely held the child under the boiling bath water as the final act in a series of abuse incidents. Meanwhile Cloete was found guilty on two counts of abuse and neglect for turning a blind eye to the ongoing attacks.

On Thursday, Cloete applied for bail as she awaits sentencing proceedings, claiming through an affidavit that if denied her temporary freedom, she’d be unable to financially provide for her family.

Two of her three surviving children are currently in a children’s home. The third child is living with a relative.

While she insisted she was not a flight risk, the investigating officer, Stephen Joubert, thought otherwise.

The state submitted an affidavit from warrant officer Joubert detailing how Cloete had repeatedly broken her bail conditions.

Cloete had failed to inform him that she had changed both her address and place of employment — directly flouting the restrictions initially set by the court.

He said Cloete had also travelled to Port Elizabeth without his consent, despite being barred from leaving Gauteng without receiving express permission.

He also revealed that Cloete's mother had taken the children out of the place of safety for a day visit in mid-December, and had made a video call where Cloete was able to speak with them both. Because of this, he said he is planning to open a case of obstruction of justice against them both.

Cloete’s defence advocate, Ruan Hollamby, denied Joubert’s claims, particularly concerning the phone call to the two children, and insisted Cloete had informed the officer of her planned trip to Port Elizabeth.

However, Judge Matshitse was not swayed by Hollamby’s arguments, saying on Friday morning the mother had failed to prove any exceptional circumstances required to grant her bail.

"Looking at all the facts, and also as far as the applicant's personal circumstances are concerned, they are commonplace and not out of the ordinary," he said.

He was also critical of Cloete's attempts to suggest there was a likelihood she could get a non-custodial sentence or a fine.

The judge said that while the "serious crimes" of which she had been convicted could potentially be punished with a fine, she could also face 10 years in prison.

"She has a tendency to breach the conditions of her bail, she shows that she does not have any confidence in the investigating officer, who is supposed to monitor her while on bail," he ruled.

The bail application was subsequently denied, with sentencing proceedings set down for later this month.

While Cloete has repeatedly become emotional throughout the past few sets of proceedings, on Friday she appeared unsurprised at the court's ruling, her face neutral as she was returned to the cells beneath the courtroom.

*Not their real names. Their names have been withheld to protect the identities of the surviving children.

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