A woman from Mpumalanga is scheduled to appear in the Emalahleni Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on charges of killing her seven-month-old daughter by setting fire to their shack.
Mpumalanga police have reported that on Sunday morning, the mother allegedly locked the infant inside the shack in Marikana Extension 16, Vosman, near Emalahleni, and set it on fire, reducing it to ashes.
“Upon arrival at the crime scene, a group of people was found deeply perturbed by the horrifying incident in which the fire consumed an innocent toddler.
Preliminary investigations revealed that earlier on, the child’s mother and her husband had a heated argument that turned violent. The husband then left the premises, and it was during this time that she allegedly torched the shack.
“Although she was whisked away from the raging flames by some members of the public who became outrageous. They even tried to take the law into their own hands, but the police rescued her. There were also some allegations that she was somehow under the influence of alcohol when the incident happened; however, the allegations will form part of the investigation,” said provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala.
Mohlala reported that a community member rescued the mother before she entered the fire, but they were unable to save the child.
Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela vehemently condemned the incident and labelled it as heartless and unwarranted.
“It is the responsibility of parents to protect children rather than to use them as either weapons or shields during fights. We urge community members to seek professional help from social workers when they are confronted with social challenges, but never to resort to violence at the expense of children,” Manamela said.
The incident occurred just three days after the body of an infant was discovered discarded at the Mogononong dumping site in Siyabuswa, also on the Mpumalanga Highveld.
A woman who was collecting recyclables at the landfill made the gruesome discovery and notified the police.
Mohlala also confirmed this incident, and the baby’s mother has yet to be found.
Three weeks earlier, a newborn girl was discovered stuffed inside a plastic bag and discarded near the soccer field in Mbuzini, close to the Mozambique border gate.
Dr. Benita Nel, the provincial director of Mpumalanga Childline, has expressed concern about the widespread abandonment and murder of newborns in the province.
“This is painful and disturbing; we understand that sometimes young girls and women face difficult situations in their lives, but they must not resort to killing or dumping the children in the streets,” said Nel. “There are many drop-in centers in the country where a mother can just drop the baby inside the box and leave. Alternatively, they can go and see counselors or social workers who can assist them in deciding what to do with the baby instead of killing them or placing their lives in danger.”