There’s a whip on the judge’s table, and when Victoria Mabuko sees it, she begins to cry. “Of course I know the whip, it’s what my mother used to beat me with”, the 22 year old shares with the court. Victoria is the main eye witness to a case against Scholastica Beyer, who has been accused of abusing her daughter physically and sending her grand child back to Kenya.
Scholastica used to be an actress at KBC until she met her German husband and moved to Germany. The 49 year old just recently started studying Geology at the University. She stands in court with no make up in her short untidy hair quite the opposite to her daughter, sister and niece who are dressed in figure fitting outfits, hair well done and beautifully put on make up.
Victoria came to Berlin in 2005 with her daughter June and moved in with her mother and step father who’d already been married for close to 5years. Victoria wanted to do an Ausbildung in nursing. Until then mother and daughter had only seen one another during short visits. In less than two weeks after moving in, did mother and daughter have an argument and that was the first time Victoria saw the whip.
As Victoria was sharing the story with the court, the DNA expert asked to be given a chance to speak. According to his research on the DNA samples he collected, Victoria wasn’t Scholastica’s daughter. They were related but either as cousins or aunt and niece but not mother and daughter. “I only have this mother”, Victoria tried to defend herself.
Four weeks later, during the last hearing, the accused decided to give a statement and explain the scientific findings from the DNA expert. “I’m not her biological mother”, issued Scholastica’s lawyer.
Apparently Victoria wasn’t Scholastica’s daughter but her niece. Victoria was daughter to Scholastica’s sister Florence. When Victoria was born, Florence didn’t have a job, so Scholastica took in the child and brought her up like her very own but never adopted her. “According to Kenyan laws, I am her mother”, Scholastica told the court. Victoria though had never heard about any of this.
Victoria shared with the court that she was whipped for the smallest reasons. Once she was whipped for coming late yet she was only late because she couldn’t find her way from the VHS where she was attending a German class. She was whipped for not cleaning the house properly and once when she gave the conductor the wrong ticket resulting in a fine, Scholastica beat her for it. Apparently, Scholastica would sit on the sofa and whip her while she stood across the room from her.
Victoria was whipped so often she can’t count how many times they really were but at least once every week. “Mum handled me like a slave”, Victoria said through the translator. Victoria doesn’t speak enough German to express herself.
Though Victoria didn’t bleed from the whippings, she has so many black scars on her body as a result. A doctor explained to the court that hematoma on black skin left black scars as opposed to the reddish blue scars on white skin.
When Victoria was 17 after she had lived with the Beyers for a year, she told her German teacher about all she was going through and she was taken up by the children’s welfare social workers. As she was afraid of what her mother would do, she left her then 4 year old child with Scholastica.
After Victoria ran away, Scholastica wrote to the Immigration Office and asked if she could send back her daughter and granddaughter to Kenya because Victoria was beating the granddaughter. When the police came in and questioned Victoria, Victoria told them the truth that she wasn’t the one beating her child but instead the one being beaten. The whole process instead of ending with what Scholastica had planned which was to send Victoria and her daughter back to Kenya, instead backfired and she ended up being charged with child abuse.
But according to what Scholastica told the courts, Victoria was afraid of being sent back to Kenya and had instead gone to the Children’s welfare office with these accusations so as to avoid being sent back home.
Scholastica’s husband Michael also agrees to this version of the story, saying he never witnessed any whipping in his household but he did she Victoria throwing her child to the floor, slapping the kid and cursing at the child.
In Summer 2007, Scholastica went to Kenya together with June, she also took Victoria’s passport as that’s where June’s details were also saved. They stayed in Kenya and relaxed for close to 4months as they waited for Victoria to join them, but how was Victoria to join them without a passport?
June was left in Kenya to live with Florence. Scholastica insists she took the child to Kenya to protect her from Victoria because Victoria abused the child and was also taking drugs. According to Scholastica, the child was traumatised and was always having nightmares and wetting her bed due to fear from what she was going through with her mother.
According to some info from Kenya, Scholastica and her sister Florence had fought over June’s custody and the issue had escalated until the Ministry for Gender and Child Care had to be called in. The ministry ruled that the child could not leave Kenya without her parent and in case the child was planned to leave the country, they had to get permission from the ministry.
The prosecutor did not believe that Victoria’s accusations were true. According to him, he didn’t understand how someone could whip another while sitting on the sofa while the other was across the room. The whip was tested for blood or anything that could prove Victoria’s story but nothing was found, though the testing was done 2years after the alleged time the crime took place. The prosecutor said, though it might be possible that these things happened, there was no way to prove it.
The judge found Scholastica guilty first for physical abuse and secondly for taking away Victoria’s passport thus hindering her from visiting her child in Kenya. She was sentenced to 18months imprisonement plus 300hrs community service.
*Names were changed to maintain anonymity
This story is from 2009, Scholastica has since left prison and gone back to her normal life in Berlin with no contact to Victoria. Victoria went back to Kenya and brought back her child; they both live in Berlin.