No bail for baby-killer accused

Nine-month-old Caswell Knipe was allegedly abused and killed by his foster mother in Vrygrond last month.

There were angry scenes outside the Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday when the Vrygrond foster mother accused of killing a 9-month-old baby appeared for a bail hearing.

Priscilla Morris murdered infant Caswell Frans and buried his body in a shallow grave in Vrygrond, according to court charges against her. His body was found on Monday December 20, last year.

Ms Morris was arrested after her sister reported her to the police and revealed where the baby’s body was buried, said Caswell’s family.

People protested outside the court, demanding that the alleged baby killer get no bail.

Muizenberg police station commander Colonel Vassie Naidoo said the infant’s mother, Candice Frans, who was at the court, had laid charges of intimidation against two of Ms Morris’s relatives whom she accused of threatening her.

Caswell Frans’s body was found in a shallow grave on Monday December 20.

Ms Frans placed Caswell in Ms Morris’s care last year.

The infant’s grandfather, Caswell Frans, said his daughter had been unable to take care of the baby as she had been struggling with drug addiction and living on a field.

He said the social worker assigned to the baby’s case had at first asked him to look after Caswell, but the family had been unable to do so as they had already been taking care of her Ms Frans’s other child.

“Candice then gave Caswell to this woman thinking he would have a better life, but soon afterwards, we received complaints that she was abusing my grandson, a baby who couldn’t defend himself.”

Mr Frans said he had reported the alleged abuse to the Department of Social Development, but no action had been taken.

Many people were responsible for his grandson’s death, including social workers, he said.

“My grandson would not have died if Social Development followed up on the abuse claims; if they went out and saw the bruises on his tiny body. It is very tragic that he had to die in such a way, and there was no one there to protect him.”

Mr Frans said a key witness had reported how Caswell had been beaten on the day of his murder and on earlier occasions.

“If we got Caswell out of her care he would have been alive,” he said.

Community worker Aysha Davids said social workers had failed Caswell.

“This is just one example of how Social Development does not take reports seriously and does not do what’s in the best interest of a child. There are many other cases like Caswell’s. We as a community are standing with the family to support them because we cannot let a baby killer go free and walk the streets to do it to another child.”

Ms Davids said the case should go to the high court for justice to prevail and for the accused to get the maximum sentence.

Department of Social Development spokeswoman Esther Lewis said they were investigating the handling of Caswell’s case to determine whether there had been negligence.

The family would be asked to give their version of events, she said.

“The case will also go before the Child Death Review panel this month, which is chaired by the Department of Health’s forensic pathology unit, which will assist in clarifying the details surrounding the child’s death and will further help to inform our investigation into the social workers’ handling of the case.”

Ms Morris was refused bail and she was remanded in custody until her next appearance on Wednesday March 16.