Toddler flogged with cable and forced to eat her own faeces
Rescuers say the girl had been 'hidden' from her biological father so her R410 childcare grant wouldn't be stopped
It was the desperate screams of a toddler that rose from a shack in the Nkwali Reserve informal settlement that first alerted anyone to the terror within.
The petrified three-year-old girl was being flogged with a length of electrical cable, each stroke etching lines across her back and legs.
Her cries brought the police to the doorstep and exposed a jarring case of child abuse which saw her mother placed in handcuffs and the child reunited with her biological father.
Her one-year-old sister was taken to a place of safety.
The woman – who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the child – is out on bail.
Bobbi Bear founder Eureka Olivier said their aid workers had been called in at the behest of the police and were confronted with a case that shocked them.
“The neighbours had called us out last week after reporting that two children were being abused by their mother and her boyfriend,” she said.
“The elder child had been badly beaten with an electrical cable. The mother and boyfriend are whoonga addicts and are hardly ever home. The boyfriend hated the older one because she wasn’t his child,” Olivier added.
The couple would take turns to beat the older child, she said.
“Even the doctor was shocked when he examined the girl. We established that the family didn’t have money for nappies so if the girl messed herself, they forced her to eat it.”
Olivier added that they had traced the girl’s biological father who had been excluded since his daughter was born.
“He had been searching for her for three years. She [the girl’s mother] was holding onto the child to get a child support grant. She’s been reunited with her father and the one-year-old is unwanted. We had to put her in a baby home,” she said.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the 30-year-old mother had been detained.
“It is alleged that a the woman assaulted her three-year-old child with an electric wire and fed her human waste after she had messed herself,” she said.
“A case for contravening the Children’s Act was opened at the Amanzimtoti police station and assigned to the Umlazi FCS for investigation. Police arrested a 30-year-old suspect and she appeared at the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court.”
Olivier said it was increasingly common that abusive parents were driven by the R410 monthly grant administered by the state.
“All they care about is the money coming into their account every month and it is spent how they wish. We have seen cases where none of it goes to the children who desperately need it. We had one case where a woman had many children just to push up the amount she was given by the South African Social Security Agency [Sassa],” she said.
According Sassa’s 2018 annual report, the agency paid 12.5 million individual grants in the latest reporting period.
Open Arms South Africa, a body that operates “baby safes” across the country, said 3,500 babies were abandoned every year.
“It is said two out of three abandoned babies are found dead. This could be some of the reasons for abandonment. One of them is that mothers move from one relationship to another and their new boyfriends do not want to take care of the child from a previous relationship,” the body said.