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South African Journal of Psychiatry

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Case series of females charged with murder or attempted murder of minors and referred to Weskoppies Hospital in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act over a period of 21 years

Kwena B. Khoele, Paul H. de Wet, Hermanus W. Pretorius, Jaqui Sommerville

Abstract


Women charged with murder or attempted murders of children are usually sent for forensic psychiatric evaluation. In South Africa research and literature on this population is scarce. A case series was studied of forensic files of 32 females charged with murder or attempted murder of children. These files contained information on such females. The forensic psychiatric observation was mainly to establish whether a psychiatric diagnosis could be made, and whether they were triable and accountable. Files from 01 Jan 1990 to 31 Dec 2010 (21 years) were obtained of cases observed in Weskoppies Hospital. The aim of describing this case series was to attempt to find a psychiatric profile of such cases, as well as to find other information for example, demographics. The findings, after forensic observation regarding their ability to follow court proceedings and their ability to contribute meaningfully to their defence (trialability) as well as their ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and their ability to act in accordance with the said appreciation (accountability) at the time of the alleged offence were also reported. This information could contribute to making medical practitioners and mental health care workers aware of risk factors involving such cases and to encourage them to enquire about these risk factors.




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