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Family of Bonteheuwel mother accused of murdering eight-month-old boy claims her innocence

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“There is not a doubt in my mind that Kathy was also a victim to abuse and not a perpetrator and should not be accused of this crime.”

These were the words of former employer to the Bonteheuwel mother implicated in the murder of her eight-month-old son, Levy.

Kathleen Isaacs’ family had, on Monday, disputed the merit in her arrest and claimed that she herself was a victim of abuse and was not involved in the child’s death. The community was left devastated by news of the baby’s murder early November 2020, after which the 31-year-old appeared in the Bishop Lavis Magistrate court alongside her 32-year-old husband Ricardo Isaacs.

While news reports laid equal blame to both parents; the accused’s sister Lea Anne Micheals explained that Kathleen received a phone call informing her that her son had been hospitalized. According to Micheals, the inspector told her that she is an accomplice because she knew the child was being abused. If there’s something she is guilty of, Micheals said, “it was perhaps of working too much.”

“This happened on (a) Thursday when Kathleen was at work. She worked a 12-hour shift, which she started 6am. She had to rush from work to attend to her baby in hospital, of which she wasn’t sure- the only thing she knew was that the child was unconscious and couldn’t breathe.

Micheals said the hospital thereafter informed the accused that her child was brain dead.

“I remember her sitting there, shaking, not knowing what to do. She was too traumatized to (even) answer the phone. The only thing I remember her saying (to the doctor) was ‘just save my child’s life’.”

“The following day, they had to tell her that (they) have to switch off the machines and pull out the pipes because there’s nothing (they) can do for the baby anymore,” said Micheals, emphasising the trauma she experienced.

The suspects’ former employer, Owen Francis, whose life partner is Kathleen’s cousin, said that he came to know her on both on a personal and professional level. Kathleen had worked for him for three years. Both Francis and Micheals have called for her release.

“She had an incredible work ethic both in her profession as well as to her family. She is a kind, loving, humble person. Its very tragic, the events that occurred. There is not a doubt in my mind that Cathy was also a victim to abuse and not a perpetrator and should not be accused of this crime.”

She is very supportive of her children; she lives for her children. As part of my gathering of evidence in support of Cathy, I have gathered around 30-character references and affidavits. There is a common thread that talks to be a loving mother, caring person and that her children are her life.

According to Micheals, while Kathleen usually took care of the child, Levy was left in the care of his father for the week to allow Kathleen to handle her personal matters including her UIF. She described her brother-in-law as manipulative and secretive and added that the family “could never nail him (but) always suspected something was odd”.

“We invited him to many family events, but he would just sit on his own, not even socialize- nothing. But Kathleen is a different person, she is the type that will change your bad mood into a good mood. She would face any circumstances and just lighten up your day.”

Francis echoed the sentiment and said that although she was the “life” in the office, she also led a private life.

“Kathleen hasn’t ever shared with us evidence that things had gone wrong. But there were subtle things in her behaviour and that of her partner that we picked up, we kept saying ‘something’s not right here’.

“She never laid a charge against her husband, however there is evidence that she had taken her baby to the doctor and Vanguard clinic on several occasions because there were marks on the child’s body for example, that she wasn’t sure of. “

Francis further claimed that “evidence has come out that Kathleen’s husband had in fact threatened the lives of her parents.”

According to Francis, Kathleen was handed medication to treat skin infections and ring worms after visiting both a private doctor and clinic. This after she noticed strange marks on the child’s body. He noted however that police now believe the marks were evidence of abuse. Kathleen was also reportedly turned away by officials.

“Her family has gone to the Bishop Lavis police for assistance and it was declined. That is the circumstance that women of abuse are being faced with, in reality, on the Cape Flats.”

Amid the reports of physical abuse by both parents, her sister gave the following response to questions around Kathleen’s method of disciplining her child:

“Kathleen would call them on the first, second and third name and then their surname. She would call them by all their names and say, ‘stand still and listen to me’. Then she would start from A to Z about what that child did wrong and (then) explained to the child what the correct manner is of doing it. If an apology should be done, she’d say ‘you turn back and go to (your uncle) and apologize.”

Francis said that, sadly, women on the Cape Flats face abuse regularly- in silence.

“Anybody who knows anything about mental trauma and has been a victim knows that it is very difficult to vocalize and verbalize things when you’re affected. When we sit and theorize what needs to happen and what people need to do, we are not faced with that mental trauma or anguish.”

“We do not understand or live in the spaces where women fear for their lives. One can argue that she should’ve done this or that, but if you’re not in her circumstances or living the life of a victim, its difficult to completely understand and predict what that behaviour looks like.”

The case has been remanded until January 22 for a formal bail application.

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