A Windhoek woman charged with causing her granddaughter's death through child abuse is facing an extended period in police custody after the postponement of her case to early next year.
Naemi Hamulungu (45) and her daughter Kristine Matheus (27), who allegedly abused baby Nangula Haikali for more than two months before she died in January this year, heard their case was being postponed to 10 February when they made a second appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Katutura yesterday.
Magistrate Johannes Shuuveni postponed the case after public prosecutor Victoria Likius informed him the state was still opposed to the granting of bail, due to the seriousness of the offence the two women are charged with and because police investigations in the matter are still continuing. Likius added that according to the state it would not be in the interest of justice to grant bail to the two accused.
The magistrate advised Hamulungu and Matheus that they can formally apply for bail and also for legal aid in the meantime.
Hamulungu and Matheus are accused of having subjected baby Nangula to abuse and neglect between November last year and early January this year.
Nangula died in Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek on 20 January - about two weeks after Matheus had allegedly left her at the hospital without providing a contact address for herself. Nangula would have turned two on 28 April.
She allegedly died of septic shock.
Hamulungu and Matheus, who were arrested and charged last week, face a count of culpable homicide.
The state is alleging that they assaulted baby Nangula by beating her and placed her in a bowl of hot water and left her there for an entire day, did not give her food and gave her leftover food which had been left outside for days. It also alleged that the two women did not take the baby to the hospital when she was sick, neglected her and cleaned her with a broom.
Hamulungu and Matheus are further accused of making remarks such as "I hate this child" and "she is stupid" and generally not taking good care of Nangula.
The abuse allegedly suffered by Nangula left her severely malnourished and with a septic wound caused by being burnt. Nangula's father, Joseph Haikali, is a son of Hamulungu and a brother of Matheus. He has told The Namibian he was not aware of his daughter's death for nine months until he travelled to Windhoek in early October, as he lives in a remote part of the Omaheke region and was never informed she had died when he was in telephone contact with his mother.
Nangula's mother, Maria !Naris, who was present at the court proceedings yesterday, told The Namibian she was glad the two women were not granted bail. She said she would never forgive them for what they did.
!Naris said she felt numb thinking of the pain her child endured, but believed her baby was in a better place now.
"This issue disturbs me [...] I am hanging in there as a mother. Some days are better than others, but I am surviving," she said.