Day-care centre owner to be sentenced on Wednesday

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Maria Amakali

Windhoek-Fifty-two year old Catharina Agnes van den Berg, the owner of a day-care centre where an 11-month-old toddler drowned, will be sentenced on Wednesday, January 15.

She faces a potential maximum five-year prison sentence and/or a fine not exceeding N$20 000.

After hearing submissions from the State and the defence lawyer, Magistrate Ingrid Unegu informed the court that she needs to study and consider all the facts, so that an appropriate sentence may be passed.

Van den Berg, who was sobbing throughout the session yesterday, was found guilty of culpable homicide on January 16. Van den Berg back in November 2012, had failed to keep a close eye on the toddler in her care, who later ended up in the swimming pool in the backyard of her home in in Academia, Windhoek.

According to the evidence presented, one of the children that was at the centre left the door to the pool open. The toddler then crawled out of the room where all the children were taking a nap, consequently falling into the swimming pool outside the house.

Van den Berg reportedly performed CPR on the toddler in an effort to save his life after the toddler was discovered in the pool and upon the arrival of the ambulance, the toddler was still reportedly breathing.

Magistrate Unegu found Van den Berg guilty of causing the toddler’s death through negligence. However, evidence could not prove that the day-care facility, which has been shut down, was not fit for care.

Van den Berg’s family-funded attorney, Abraham Small, through his submissions informed the court that a fully suspended sentence would be appropriate for his client, emphasising that a hefty fine would not do, as she is not in a financial position to pay.

“This is an unfortunate situation where someone died, but giving a stiff punishment won’t bring back the child,” Small argued.

Small told the court that the convict is a first-time offender, considering her advanced age and that she has never had any run-ins with the law.

Van den Berg has been operating the day-care centre as a means of livelihood, which placed her in the position of being the sole breadwinner of her family since her husband fell ill and she has been relying on the family for financial support since the closure of the centre.

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