Physically and emotionally abused, suffering from major depression and financially ruined, 35-year-old single mother Megan Prins was "at the end of her tether" when she killed her 7-year-old son Sloan in July this year.
"There is no dispute that she caused the death of her child," her attorney Bert Laing said during her successful bail application before Durban Magistrate Mohamed Motala on Friday.
"But what needs to be ascertained is what her mental condition was at the time."
Prins has already been assessed by specialists at Town Hill Hospital and was found to be fit to stand trial.
But Laing said there was a probability that she would raise a "technical defence" about her state of mind during her trial.
Prins, who lived in a flat in Morningside which she once shared with Sloan's father, booked into a bed and breakfast in Umhlanga for one night.
Father allegedly stopped paying bills
It is alleged that during that evening, she gave Sloan 10 adults' sleeping tablets. When he was "knocked out" she then smothered him to death. She then tried to kill herself and, when she was arrested, she had five knife wounds on her body.
In an affidavit handed into court, she detailed a history of abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend and a history of severe postnatal depression, for which she had been hospitalised several times.
A qualified nurse, she was working for an NGO at the time of the crime.
After their break-up, Sloan's father stopped contributing to the bills, she alleged.
"I was solely responsible for bringing up Sloan. At nights there was sometimes only enough food for him to eat so I went without.
"I feared losing my home. And then Standard Bank called for an immediate payment of R57 000 on the bond. I felt abandoned and helpless."
'What was I thinking?'
Prins' brother, Adrian Prins, also submitted an affidavit in which he said his sister loved Sloan unconditionally and he loved her.
"He was her constant companion. They would play hide-and-seek and make-believe games together.
"He used to lie on top of her and she would cuddle him. She would call him 'mommy's baby' and he would get upset and tell her he was a big boy.
"This has completely destroyed her. She says she cannot look at her own hands....she keeps asking herself: 'What was I thinking?'"
The State opposed bail. Prosecutor Sipho Mhlongo said she was a "threat to herself" and was safer in the prison environment. He conceded that she was not a flight risk but said she had made a "threatening" call to her ex-boyfriend, who was going to be a State witness.
But Magistrate Motala said Prins had made a case for bail.
No danger to 'anyone but herself'
He said this was a most unusual case and he disagreed that it was a prevalent crime.
"It is contrary to the natural instincts of human beings to harm their children. The fact that she has been found fit to stand trial is only the beginning of the inquiry. It is important that she see psychologists and psychiatrists and be in the right frame of mind to conduct her defence, or even plead guilty."
He agreed that she was no danger to "anyone but herself", but said she had the support of her mother, father and brother who would nurture and guide her.
He granted her bail of R3 000 and ordered, for her own safety, that she live with her parents and report twice a week to her local police station.
She will appear in court again on November 30.