Warning: Graphic content detailing child abuse.
Foster mom Priscilla Morris has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for beating 9-month-old Caswell Frans, a foster child, to death.
Why? He cried often and was “naughty.”
In a plea and sentencing agreement confirmed yesterday by the Western Cape High Court, Morris detailed the abuse she put the child through on 17 December 2021.
As reported by News24, the foster mom explained how she threw the child to the floor, hit him, choked him, threw water at him, and upon realising he had stopped moving, poured water down his throat in an attempt to revive him.
Morris recounted how on the day, she was feeling unwell and had a sore back, and became enraged with the baby.
She also used a fan, thinking the cold air would assist in waking him up, but 9-month-old Caswell had died in their Vrygrond house.
Both Morris and the other people in the house who had seen what had happened, did not call an ambulance or the police, nor did they attempt to resuscitate him.
Morris put the baby’s body in plastic bags and buried him on a sports field in Vrygrond, not before sending the younger children to buy her cigarettes from the shop.
Morris proceeded to collect Caswell’s grant and move on, until two of the people who knew what had happened reported it to the police. Morris was then arrested.
Caswell had been in the care of Morris since he was six weeks old as his mother and father, who slept on a sports field, were struggling.
Caswell’s biological mother made a private arrangement for Morris to foster the baby as she knew her through a friend.
Morris had applied for a foster care grant to pay for Caswell’s food and clothes, and she had passed the home visit and interviews held by the Department of Social Development that are required for a grant.
Although Morris believed he was a “naughty” child, Caswell was often ill, having been treated for tuberculosis and vomiting easily after meals.
Shortly after being taken in by Morris, Caswell was taken to the hospital to treat a fractured arm. Morris told the staff that he had fallen off a bed, but the suspicious staff reported the incident to the Department of Social Development.
When the department visited Morris’ home, the other people living in the house lied for her, confirming that Caswell had indeed fallen off a bed.
In court, Morris pleaded guilty to Caswell’s neglect and murder, as well as hiding his body.
Morris was sentenced to five years each for two charges of child abuse and neglect, 25 years for murder and 10 years for obstruction of justice in hiding the body.
She will serve 30 years in jail as some sentences run concurrently, and is not allowed to work with children.
Judge Constance Nziweni called out the people involved in the tragedy, saying that it was clear that something was wrong, but that nobody reported it.
Nziweni urged people to always take action or speak up in regards to children’s welfare, and called for an overhaul of how the Department of Social Development deals with affairs currently.
“This is a typical case of child abuse, but, it is a fact that it was not done in secrecy,” said Nziweni.
Nziweni told Caswell’s family, who are struggling to make sense of the tragedy: “I am so sorry for your loss.”
Read the full story here.