The 5-year-old girl was found alone in her house when the neighbour heard her crying.
The neighbour forced open a window and found the child on the floor. She looked drowsy and her speech was slurred.
She was taken to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
“The toxicology screen revealed that she was positive for methamphetamines,” says Dr Anita Parbhoo, the hospital’s medical manager.
“She had multiple bruising of different ages all over her body, she was underweight for her age, her teeth were rotten, her immunisations were not up to date, and she had three old rib fractures and one new skull fracture.”
The child, known as “S”, is just one of the scores of young patients the hospital sees each year with abuse-related injuries.
From September last year to September this year, the hospital saw 66 confirmed and another 146 suspected cases of non-accidental injuries.
“A large number of child-abuse cases that are presented to our hospital are linked to gender-based violence and intimate partner violence within their households,” Dr Parbhoo says.
The hospital says the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, which stared on Wednesday November 25, can help to focus society’s attention on this form of violence so fewer children end up like “S”.
She later revealed in interviews with a social worker that her parents were drug users and her father smacked her, punched her in the chest and pushed her against a wall.
And her mother hit her head against the wall when she did not want to beg for food.
The mother was arrested, but the father’s whereabouts remain unknown, Dr Parbhoo says.
“The parents had a history of domestic violence where the father physically abused the mother if she did not find money for drugs.”
“S” has been removed from her parents’ care and is now in a child-and-youth-care facility.
She has recovered from her physical injuries and is getting counselling. Dr Parbhoo says stories like these are far too common.
“Intimate partner violence can affect women and children from all walks of life and as society, we need to step up our vigilance, we all need to raise our voices and report the perpetrators of violence and abuse, who are often men and break the cycle of abuse.”
The children’s hospital is urging people to report all instances of abuse whenever they occur, even if it’s suspected, to their nearest police station.
For help or advice, you can contact the GBV emergency line on 0800 428 428 or call Childline SA on 0800 055 555.