A Pietermaritzburg four-year-old nearly died on her birthday after she was allegedly kidnapped, repeatedly strangled and thrown into the Dusi River next to Alexandra Park. It is alleged that the child also had bottles thrown at her by a group of four people who allegedly kidnapped her from school on Tuesday. The media visited the scene where the child was allegedly thrown into the river on Wednesday.
She had to crawl up a three-metre bank to get help after it is believed she was left for dead. Sources say that a woman, believed to be known to the father of the child, picked the child up from school in Slangspruit, near Imbali Unit 2, where she claimed to be her maternal aunt and said she was taking the child to the hospital. On their way, she allegedly told the child that they were going out for a birthday celebration. It is believed that they then drove to Alexandra Park.
‘I’m still shocked’
A witness who spoke to the media on Wednesday said at about 8 am on Tuesday, he saw a group of four people, two men and two women, under the trees next to the Dusi River. “At the time, I did not see the child but there was one woman who then went near the river and kept looking down the bank in different spots. Since it was still early, I wondered what was happening, but opted to go inside my office,” said the man. One of the people who found the child said she arrived at her workplace at 8.45 am and after getting out of her car, she heard a noise coming from the bushes next to the river.
She said when she looked over, she saw a child wearing only a wet vest and she ran to check on her. She said the child also had mud on her head. “She was on the other side of the fence and I told her to walk closer to the fence. She was shaking and shivering. I called my other colleagues to come with towels as she said she was cold. Since it was in the morning, you can understand how extremely cold it was.
“My colleagues went around to get her. She was not sure whether to come with them, but I told her that she was safe with me and everything was going to be fine. We put her in the room and tried to keep her warm,” she said. The woman said she was emotional throughout the day and even on Wednesday, as she still could not shake the shock she experienced after the incident.
“I was crushed, and I am still crushed about this whole thing. I was crying the whole day and even today (Wednesday). It’s still playing on my mind about what she had to go through.” “I’m still shocked and very scared, and I think this whole thing is going to be on my mind for a while. I was even more crushed to learn that it was her birthday.”
Mi7 National Group medical unit and KwaZulu-Natal Private Ambulance services were called to assess the child. It said when they arrived at the scene, the child was fine and only had one scratch on her back. “The paramedics monitored the child until the police arrived at the scene. The child was then handed over to the Child Protection Unit and she didn’t require hospital assistance,” said the Mi7 National Group.
uMgungundlovu District police spokesperson, Sergeant Sifiso Gwala, confirmed the incident and said a case was sent to the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual unit in Pietermaritzburg for investigation. Gwala said the alleged kidnappers first told the child to undress and then allegedly strangled her before they threw her into the river.
“While the child was in the water, they allegedly threw bottles at her which hit her on her head but the child managed to swim out to the river bank. They allegedly strangled her again until she became unconscious. They then allegedly pushed her down the banks into the bush and left her there thinking she was dead.”
Gwala said a woman was arrested on Tuesday after the child positively identified her as the person who allegedly picked her up from school and strangled her. He said a case of attempted murder and kidnapping was opened at Alexandra Police Station for investigation. Gwala said the arrested woman was expected to appear in Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. He said the child was receiving medical assistance and counselling.
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