A 29-year-old woman has appeared in the KwaMhlanga magistrate's court in Mpumalanga accused of keeping her daughter chained to a wall inside their home for more than three years.
She was arrested on Sunday afternoon and charged with child neglect for allegedly chaining the 13-year-old child, who is also mentally handicapped, to a wall.
Neither the mother nor the child may be named in terms of legislation protecting the rights of children.
When she appeared on Monday, the woman was warned to return to court on April 8. Her daughter was admitted to KwaMhlanga Hospital.
Police said the mother claimed that she chained the child because of the child's mood swings, which sometimes turned violent.
Police spokesman Captain Mamsi Cibe said police received a tip-off from residents. It is believed the child had been in chains since she stopped going to school sometime in 2003.
"When the police went to the girl's house in Thembalethu, she was alone inside a locked room. She was chained to the wall. The mother claims that the child is violent and sometimes refuses to take her medication. She claimed that she has no choice but to keep her chained," said Cibe.
She said police went to look for the mother at a nearby tavern after a child in the neighbourhood told them that she always hung out there.
"When the mother got to the house, she told the police that she had lost the keys to the padlock she used to chain the child. The child had a bucket that she used as a toilet next to her and a dirty blanket on which she slept," said Cibe.
When Sowetan visited the girl in hospital yesterday, she still had the chain and padlock on her left hand. These were later removed.
A nurse told Sowetan that the child was "behaving like an animal".
"I have never seen anything like this before. This child is not used to being around people. She can't even sit up or eat properly. We found her eating bath soap this morning and she drinks everything that she gets her hands on. She assaults nursing staff and other patients. She pays attention only when you shout at her," the nurse said.
The child did not have any underwear. She was wearing a dirty dress though she allegedly receives a R850 monthly disability grant. She will remain under observation in hospital.