A 6-year-old boy was found hiding alone in a classroom at his school, near Ermelo in Mpumalanga, where he hid allegedly to escape from his abusive grandmother.
According to provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, the grandmother, 40, allegedly used an axe to attack the boy, among other forms of physical abuse.
The woman was arrested on Wednesday on a charge of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
She has been released on R500 bail and is scheduled to appear in the Mayflower Periodical Court again on March 30.
On February 14 at around 15:30, a member of the public found the Grade 1 pupil wandering the streets alone in his school uniform. He was taken to his school where he took refuge in one of the classrooms, Hlathi said.
“Fortunately, one of the teachers who was busy locking classrooms on that day was busy checking if everything was in order when, surprisingly, [she] found the little boy inside the classroom while his fellow pupils were already at their homes.
“The teacher politely talked to the child to find out the reason why the boy was still in class instead of being at home. The boy related the story of being constantly abused and assaulted by his own grandmother. The teacher informed fellow teachers who were still at school and police [were] immediately summoned.”
Police arrived at the school where they found the boy with the teachers. According to Hlathi, he had severe bruises all over his body.
“A further probe by police revealed that the victim was allegedly assaulted with an axe and was even afraid to ever set his foot at home because of the experience endured, hence he opted to rather sleep in the classroom than to be in the hands of his own grandma.
Struggled to walk properly
“The boy – who was shaking as well as crying uncontrollably, complained of pains all over his body – also had visible serious injuries and he was unable to walk properly. According to information at police disposal, the victim was late at school that morning which suggest that he might have struggled to walk to school because of the ordeal that he went through at home,” Hlathi said.
The child was taken to the Mayflower Clinic and then transferred to Embhuleni Hospital owing to the seriousness of his injuries.
Social workers were notified about the incident. The boy will be taken to a temporary place of safety after he is discharged, where he will be under the supervision of social workers.
Police assigned the case docket to the Elukwatini Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit which arrested the grandmother.
Hlathi told News24 the boy’s mother was believed to be in Johannesburg and took the boy to live with his grandmother in December.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma condemned the alleged abuse.
“If women, who are supposed to shield and protect children from harm, are the ones that are in the forefront of child abuse, then our society is heading for disaster. People should stop taking out their anger as well as frustration on the vulnerable, innocent and defenceless children.
“Children should be heard not hurt by those that they so dearly trust and love. I urge the society to stand up against these barbaric acts against children who are the future of our nation. I believe that the law will take its course and the woman will get what she deserves. I call on the public to continue reporting such cases of abuse of children to the authorities, including police, because such cases normally occur at homes where chances of detecting them are slim so we rely much on the public to blow the whistle on these incidents,” said Zuma.