Authors: Oliver T Spedding
Tags: #armed robbery, #physical child abuse, #psychological child abuse, #sexual child abuse, #love versus indifference
Oliver T. Spedding
©Copyright 2015 Oliver T.
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Honour.” my attorney, James Foster said, looking up at the judge
sitting at his desk on the raised platform at the head of the
court. “As my first witness I would like to call Doctor Sydney
Bester nodded and Doctor Thomas, a tall balding man with thick
horn-rimmed glasses and wearing a dark blue suit, walked to the
witness stand, took the oath of honesty and looked at James Foster
expectantly. I judged the man to be in his late sixties.
Thomas, please tell the court what your qualifications are.” my
registered child and adolescent psychiatrist attached to the
Department of Psychiatry at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in
Cape Town.” the doctor replied.
actually is psychiatry and how does it approach the subject of
is a medical speciality devoted to the study, diagnosis, treatment
and prevention of mental disorders and, with regard to child abuse,
attempts to understand and evaluate the causes, symptoms and
consequences of this abhorrent behaviour.” the doctor said. “I work
with the victims of all three of the forms of child abuse, namely,
psychological, physical and sexual abuse.”
to sexual abuse, is there a specific age where this
The doctor pushed his glasses up
the bridge of his nose.
abuse covers a wide spectrum of activities and not confined to
physical penetration.” the doctor explained. “Sexual abuse can
therefore begin at a very young age but the most traumatic and
lasting effects of sexual abuse are the result of sexual abuse
where penetration occurs. Studies have shown though, that children
are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of eight and
twelve years. I would like to point out though, that the sexual
abuse of children is not confined to females and a huge number of
boys under the age of eighteen experience sexual abuse and other
forms of sexual violence.”
Is there a
specific parent profile for child abusers?” James Foster
common factor in child abusers is mental illness.” Doctor Thomas
said. “Mental disorders comprise a significant component of the
disease burden of most nations and depressive disorder stands out
as the most important factor of child abuse.
Depression is a common mental
illness and causes significant clinical impairment in most areas
that are important for the day-to-day functioning of the parent.
Many diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, acute
infections, Aids, cancer and anaemia are all associated with
depression. Parents with depression are often poorly groomed,
resulting in the child not receiving adequate care and grooming and
leading to the frustration of cleaning the child repeatedly. This
frustration can easily lead to abuse.
Parents who consider suicide can
be a great danger to children and ailing parents often find that
tending to a child can become overwhelming and can lead to
Depressive parents often lack an
interest in activities and seldom realise that the child has a
future and needs to be prepared for it. Impatience at the child’s
continual quest for knowledge and information can easily lead to
Agitation, thought disorders,
hallucinations, delusions and a lack of insight cause great harm to
children. Sufferers of depression can even come to believe that
children are evil.
Other contributors to child
abuse are a lack of education and skills that deny a stable income,
the absence of a father figure, frustration and helplessness as a
result of the demands for providing for a family and low social
specific characteristics for sexual child abusers?”
sexually abuse children are more often violent and likely to extend
their activities outside the home.” Doctor Thomas said.
“Authoritarian fathers with weak partners who are dependent on them
are liable to abuse children sexually although the exact opposite
is often noticed. Also fathers who are heavily dependent on their
partners for emotional support and men who have excessive sexual
demands that are not forthcoming from their partners are possible
sexual child abusers. In families where the man feels sexually
frustrated but lacks the emotional maturity to break away there is
a very real danger of sexual abuse to the children.”
“Thank you, doctor.” my attorney
said. “That will be all for the moment.”
I’d now like to call my client and first defendant, Miss Cindy
Bedford, to the witness stand.” my attorney, James Foster
The judge nodded.
I stood up
from the hard wooden bench where I’d been sitting next to my
co-accused, Garth Gilmore, and looked down at him. He stared back
at me, his dark brown eyes unemotional, the fringe of his thick
mane of black hair falling across his forehead and the scars and
blemishes of his facial acne clearly visible in the bright
courthouse light. His small mouth with its fleshy lips was slightly
compressed, betraying the anxiety that he kept trying to hide.
Although his white shirt was several sizes too big for him it
failed to hide his bulky, muscular build that, even at his young
age, was beginning to show signs of plumpness. His thick fingers
lay intertwined on his lap.
determinedly to the witness stand and placed my hand on the black
bible that the court official proffered me.
Cindy Bedford, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing
but the truth, so help you God?” the man asked in an almost bored
I do.” I
As the court official walked
away towards his desk James Foster smiled at me encouragingly.
Bedford, I’m going to address you as “Cindy” as I want you to feel
at ease in the court.” he said. “We’re not here to attack you in
any way. We’re here to try to determine what caused the events that
brought you and Garth Gilmore here.
I would like to begin by asking
you to describe your formative years as you remember them,
especially with regard to your relationship with your parents.
Please remember that this is a closed court, as required under the
Child Justice Act, and that your evidence will be strictly
confidential to this court and will not be open to the public. Do
“Yes.” I said, and taking a deep
breath, I began my response to my attorney’s request.
I was born in
the South Rand Hospital in the southern suburb of Rosettenville in
Johannesburg, South Africa on the morning o
f June the tenth, nineteen ninety, the first and only child
of John and Alice Bedford. My first name, Cindy, was chosen for me
as it had been my maternal grandmother’s first name.
According to my mother I was a
quiet baby, not prone to bouts of screaming and howling, and when I
did cry it was more of a plaintive sobbing. Apparently I smiled a
lot and appeared to be a happy and contented baby.
Most of my
ories featured my mother, a
short slim woman with short red-brown hair, dark eyebrows that
dipped towards the bridge of her nose and gave her a slightly angry
look, dark brown eyes, a delicate nose, a thin-lipped mouth and a
slightly receding chin.
My father was
several inches shorter than my mother, also slim and, at twenty
five, his thin blonde hair already showed definite signs of
receding. He had small pale blue eyes, bushy eyebrows that hung
over his eyelids and gave him a slightly aggressive look, a slender
blonde pencil moustache that underlined his battered flat nose, a
thin straight mouth and, like my mother, a slightly receding
I think that
’s short stature had something
to do with his pugnacious attitude and I suspect that the bigger
boys at school picked on him at every opportunity. His
confrontational attitude didn’t help either and, judging by his
battered and flattened nose, his false front teeth, his gnarled and
misshapen knuckles and the myriad scars on his face, the idea of
walking away from certain defeat never entered his mind.
hardly featured in any of my early memories
but when he did, it usually involved him shouting at me and
belittling anything that I tried to do. My mother told me that he
showed very little interest in my upbringing and avoided physical
contact with me whenever possible. His belligerent attitude towards
me and my mother was a constant damper to the camaraderie that most
families strive for and I received many beatings for misdemeanours
that I didn’t understand until I was much older. What soon became
very clear to me was that my mother never interfered or tried to
protect me during these assaults.
working as a wage clerk at the Simmer and Jack Gold Mine to the
of the city, my father spent all of
his free time attending to his small flock of racing pigeons that
he kept in a corrugated iron loft in the back yard of our small
two-bedroom semi-detached house. The house was situated in the
Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville and had been inherited by my
mother from her parents who had died in a motor accident five years
before I was born.
plastered outside walls of the house were
painted a dark beige colour and the corrugated iron roof a dark
red. The structure stood on a small piece of land fronted by a
brick wall with a wooden pedestrian gate in the centre and two wide
wooden gates on the left side closing off the short driveway
leading to the garage where my father housed his dark green Morris
Minor. A narrow concrete path and three steps led from the small
front gate to the veranda that stretched across the front of the
itself had a central passageway leading from the front door right
through to the back door with the two bedrooms, the bathroom and
the kitchen to the left and the lounge, dining room and the
scullery to the right. The walls of the bathroom, kitchen and
scullery were covered with white tiles and the rest of the rooms
were covered in a blue willow-patterned wallpaper. The ceilings
consisted of panels of pressed steel while the small windows
created a gloomy atmosphere even when the lights were on.
The wooden floors creaked ominously, especially
during the dry winter months.
The back yard
of the property was bare brown ground with the pigeon loft in the
centre of the back part of the high brick wall that separated our
land from our neighbours on all three sides.
father took very little notice of me during my formative years
there were many times when he was compelled to assist with my
upbringing by helping me to dress or undress and take a bath.
Although I only realised it later in my life, whenever he had to
help me with these activities he took every opportunity to touch my
genitals. Whenever he helped me to bath he always made sure that my
mother wasn’t present and then he would caress me between my legs
and make soothing sounds.
helped me dress or undress he did the same thing, gently rubbing my
with his finger and smiling at
me. He never tried to insert his finger into me though and if he
noticed any expression of fear or bewilderment on my face he would
immediately cease his caressing. At this tender age my father’s
actions meant nothing to me although I think that there were times
when I experienced vague feelings of fear.