Neighbours knew bad things were happening to the young boy behind closed doors. But by the time they finally forced their way into the house, the horror was even worse than they expected.
It appears that on Friday the three-year-old toddler from Orange Farm, south of Joburg was beaten so badly, allegedly by his stepmum, that he narrowly escaped death.
The boy was found under the bed, curled up in a plastic bath.
He was covered in bruises and one of his eyes and mouth were badly swollen.
“This woman wanted to kill this boy,” said angry neighbour Dolly Lethole (25).
Another neighbour, Dimakatso Lethana (27), said: “This woman has been beating the boy for a long time. Once he was beaten so badly that he couldn’t walk.”
Dimakatso added that once the boy was burnt with boiling water but the woman said it was an accident.
But last weekend the neighbours couldn’t take it any more.
“On Friday I heard the child screaming and then he went quiet,” said Dimakatso.
“I thought I would ask him what had happened when I saw him but the weekend went by and I didn’t see him.”
So on Sunday Dimakatso raised the alarm.
She called community leader Mathapelo Ramono, who called the police.
Cops arrived but didn’t find the boy.
“That’s when we forced our way into the house. We searched for the boy and found him under the bed, curled up in a plastic bath.
“When we took the boy away, the stepmum was so relaxed. She didn’t even ask where we were taking him,” said Mathapelo.
A case was opened on Tuesday and the woman was arrested.
Neighbours sang and cheered when she was put into the back of the police van.
Mathapelo said they were taking care of the child.
Orange Farm police spokesman Captain Johannes Motsiri said a case of abuse and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm was opened. He said the 26-year-old woman will appear in the Vereeniging Magistrates Court today.