Johannesburg – A man was found guilty of raping and beating his girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter to death, by the Western Cape High Court sitting in Ceres on Wednesday.

The judge asked Lisheko Tuswa’s mother, Thumeka Tuswa, how she could sacrifice her own child to protect an abuser. He told her she was a liar, a terrible mother, and a hopeless witness, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.

Thumeka Tuswa showed no remorse and pleaded not guilty. She was found guilty of assault.

Her boyfriend, Lulamile Qondani, initially pleaded guilty on the advice of his lawyer. On Wednesday however he changed his mind, arguing with his lawyer that his guilty plea would mean that he could not appeal his conviction and sentencing.

 The judge said he could change his mind before sentencing on Friday.

The couple kicked and beat the girl to death in Robertson on February 1, 2013.

Summarising a doctor’s report, the judge said the girl had lacerations on her liver and had lost a litre of blood. This was the cause of death. She had been subjected to abuse over a long period and had fresh injuries to her genitals.

Qodani had claimed she had been fed before going to bed, but a post mortem exam found only blood in her stomach.

Tuswa, who had a 5-month-old baby and two older children, took the girl from her grandparents in the Eastern Cape in 2012, telling social workers they were ill-treating her, and went to live in Robertson. She phoned them and told them the girl had died from stomach cramps