A court in Nairobi heard how a couple has allegedly been assaulting and starving one of their daughters while pampering her twin.
The court also heard that the child was sent to India when she was just a year old, and was not breastfed.
Keyur Navinchandra and Jyoti Keyur are facing charges of assaulting their then five-year-old daughter. They are said to have committed the offence between December 2014 and July 9, 2015 within Parkland in Nairobi.
Appearing before Magistrate Hellen Onkwani, Bijal Shah – the headmistress of Montessori school where the girl is a pupil, testified how the child begged for food from her colleagues and members of staff.
The court was told that while other children had sufficient rations of food, the girl would carry 100ml of yogurt and a chopped banana.
“I asked the mother to increase the snacks since the child was begging for food from everyone but she said she had to prepare two children and therefore did not have time to do so,” Bijal said. The headmistress said the child’s mother, Jyoti, came to the school in January 2015 seeking admission for the daughter in the school’s special needs section.
“I granted her admission and she started school on January 7, 2015. Jyoti told me she was moving the child from her previous school because she was not being looked after well and was coming back home with injuries,” Bijal said.
She also said the child’s mother told her that the little girl fell down from the sofa when she was six months old. The fall affected the left side of her brain which led to paralysis of her right side.
“The teachers soon started observing that the child would come to school with injuries on her body and would beg for food from them,” Bijal said.
The court heard that at a staff meeting, they decided to watch the child more closely, saying they were concerned by the amount of food she would carry which was not enough for a child her age. The witness said after several days, the class teacher brought the child to her office saying she seemed to be in a lot of pain.
“When we checked her, we realised she had an injury in the mouth. There was flesh missing in the left cheek and the injury had been covered with turmeric. It was difficult for her to eat or say anything. I called the mother asking her about the injury and she said she did not know what happened and afterwards slammed the phone down,” Bijal said.
She said she was extremely disturbed at this turn of events and decided to call someone from the social security to share her concerns. One Ushah Benshar, from the security, came to see the child and witness the injury.
“It was then I started to document the child’s injuries by taking photos and notes. I noticed that the child would come to school with severe bruises below the belly and above the thighs on both sides of her body. She also had bruises and swellings on the left side of her body plus swelling and marks on the nose,” Bijal said.
The headmistress then decided to visit the child’s former school and talk to the school head in order to compare notes. She too confirmed having seen the injuries that came from home and also that the child would constantly beg for food.
Bijal also visited the child’s twin at school to ask how the child is doing and found that she is a bright, happy and cheerful child.
She then got in touch with the Chairman of Oshwal Education and Relief Board who came to the school to see the child and suggested that she should report the matter.
Bijal said she took the child to Kenyatta National Hospital where doctors suggested she be admitted for full investigations. They opted to have the child admitted at Aga Khan Hospital. After various tests, results revealed that the tympanic membrane in her right ear was ruptured and bleeding.
The doctor also said the child was underweight.
The court heard that the child is currently living with parents of a student who used to bring her snacks at the school.
Bijal said the girl, who is now aged seven, is still in her school and is now healthy and without injuries.
The matter will be heard on July 3, 2017.