“The option he chose was to blame that little girl for her own death – that she fell onto the floor in his room and sustained such severe injuries that she was rendered comatose – and expects the court to believe him.”
These were the remarks of judge president Petrus Damaseb in the High Court sitting at Katima Mulilo on Friday, when he sentenced Sydney Ikosa (37) to 20 years’ imprisonment for murdering his two-year-old daughter Joy Ikosa in June 2020.
Damaseb also sentenced Ikosa to six years’ imprisonment for child abuse and neglect, and to a jail term of six months for common assault. He ordered that those sentences should be served concurrently with the sentence on the murder count.
Ikosa’s former wife and co-accused, Chuma Simekwazi, who was convicted of child abuse and neglect, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, suspended in full for a period of five years on condition that she is not convicted of the offence of abuse or the deliberate neglect of a child during the period of suspension.
In his sentencing remarks, Damaseb said Ikosa had an opportunity to tell the court what influenced his actions – not that it would excuse his crime.
He said a child as small as Joy, with a height of only 77 cm, could not sustain the injuries she had by falling.
“You beat your little girl to death. The beating was on many parts of her fragile head. Her death was the culmination of about four months of suffering and neglect at the hands of you and your former wife. A lengthy custodial sentence is therefore inevitable,” he said.
Damaseb said child abuse and neglect is an exceptionally serious offence due to the fact that it was commited against a small, helpless and defenceless child by two people who were supposed to love and care for her.
He said the maltreatment of Joy additionally resulted in her being malnourished until she died.
“Little Joy was not particularly welcome in the home where she met her death, because she was the product of an indiscretion by a man who lived in that home with a woman whom he wronged by breaking his vows to her.
“Little Joy had no voice of her own and no freedom of action. She could not speak out and could not run away. Therein lies the evil in this crime,” he said.
Damaseb said Simekwazi had no part in the murder of Joy, and she has three minor children with Ikosa who will be without care and attention if he gave both of them sentences resulting in their imprisonment.
“The interest of society are not best served if the less blameworthy parent for the murder of little Joy is also sent to prison,”
Damaseb said. “The most appropriate sentence in these circumstances is a suspended sentence to hang over her head like the sword of Damocles,” he added.
The state was represented by deputy prosecutor general Johan Pienaar, while Ikosa and Simekwazi were represented by legal aid lawyers Petrine Hango and Stanley Makali, respectively.