Friday, 28 February 2014

African 'over-religious' parents jailed for baby's avoidable death in London.

A five-month-old baby boy died from RICKETS, after his parents failed to seek proper medical care because of their religious beliefs.

Nkosiyapha Kunene, 36, and his wife Virginia, 32, have admitted the manslaughter of their son Ndingeko, and are due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey this afternoon.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told Mr Justice Singh the case arose out of the overarching belief, held mainly by Nkosiyapha Kunene, that there was a God in Heaven who would guide the family when it came to any matter that affected life.

Mr Whittam said the couple belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, but that that church does not approve of medical care being withheld.

He said: "There is no suggestion of any ill treatment in the conventional way of neglect or cruelty, it is a neglect to seek proper medical care and then to call medical care at the end."

Baby Ndingeko was born on January 1 2012 and died on June 14 that year, and was suffering from rickets - resulting from a severe Vitamin D deficiency - the court heard.

"There was, throughout the better part of pregnancy and into early life, a rejection of either medical advice or advice from relatives to seek medical advice," Mr Whittam said.

Nkosiyapha was baptised into the Seventh Day Adventist Church in 2000, then in 2009 was recommended to be a delegate to its South England Conference, and was said to be "highly regarded" in the organisation.

A senior figure in the church had said that the views of the couple, of Carlton Road, Erith, Kent, were perhaps the most extreme that he had ever encountered.

Mr Whittam said: "The reality is that had rickets been diagnosed earlier, and appropriate treatment given, there could have been a complete recovery, and therefore the death was avoidable."

Nkosiyapha remains of the view that death was God's will, counsel said.

Kerim Fuad QC, defending Nkosiyapha Kunene, said: "This court will rarely have before it such a gentle, humble and hitherto law-abiding peaceful couple."

He said his client could be a responsible, adoring and essentially wonderful father. The attraction of a suspended custodial sentence, with a lengthy supervision requirement, was obvious.

"The loss of their son haunts them, and will do, for the rest of their lives. They don't expect that pain to pass."

He added: "The covenant he (Nkosiyapha) had sworn with God blinded his objectivity and common sense."

Nkosiyapha, who was working as a nurse at King's College Hospital, did not reject medical treatment outright.

"He simply believes that a large amount of modern medicine is procedural and formulaic. He believes medicines are given to patients without much thought as to whether they are appropriate to a particular case."

Mr Fuad said the baby was discharged from the hospital at Darent Valley without his mother being given the essential Vitamin D that she desperately needed.

She is a vegan, and more starved of Vitamin D than most, Mr Fuad said.

Had the Vitamin D deficiency been diagnosed, the parents would have been alert to the need to be vigilant. But the Vitamin D levels were not tested until after the child's death.

Sallie Bennett-Jenkins, defending Virginia Kunene, said: "Nobody could fail to be moved by this tragedy. Or the suffering of that baby's mother.

"She has confronted the reality that she failed the child, by virtue of her view that it would be a breach of a covenant made between her, her husband and their God, and an abandonment of her sincerely-held religious views."

credit; Daily Mirror UK

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