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horror at baby's grave

By unknown | Mar 27, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Kamogelo Seekoei

Kamogelo Seekoei

Maria Mnisi tried to put on a brave face but grief and the thought of digging up her own child wore her down and eventually she crumbled.

"I have not been sleeping well after this thing started. I think about my child even when I go to the toilet," Mnisi said in a voice laced with grief.

Mnisi and her partner, Phineas Johnson, were allegedly forced by their employer to exhume the remains of their one-month-old baby after they resigned as farmworkers from the Greenlands farm near Koppies in the Free State.

The farmer then drove them 300km to Pretoria, where they originally came from, and "dumped them" at his scrapyard. Together with the child's remains, the couple sat in the back of the bakkie while Fanie Hyman, the farmer who gave the exhumation order, sat alone in the front.

"It was horrible to sit there with my baby; all I wanted was to get away. Even now I just want to get away.

"I don't know what is happening, I don't know where my baby is," she said wiping tears from her face.

Mnisi said that while she was working as a domestic for Hyman he had a tendency to walk around naked, something that caused her a lot of discomfort.

"I could not work in a place like that and when I told my husband he decided it was time for us to go home."

But Hyman would not allow the couple to leave their child on the farm.

"He gave Phineas a spade. I had to watch him dig up my baby. And the man even told us on our return that he did not want the box in his yard, so we kept the coffin at the gate until we loaded it on the van the next day," she sobbed.

But Hyman has denied having ordered any exhumation.

"I knew nothing about the body until the police came to my office on the Monday after the couple left."

Hyman said he does not understand why he was arrested because he did nothing wrong. He said he was only involved in buying a coffin and that he had nothing to do with either the burial or the exhumation.

Mnisi said when her partner went to report the case to the Pretoria police, they allegedly ignored him.

She said that when he went there for the second time, he was instead arrested. She was also put behind bars when she went to the police station the following day, last Monday.

"All we wanted was to let the police know that we were stranded and had a body we could not bury, but they said it was fraud and arrested us.

"Our dead child lay unburied for three days in the veld. I am sad."

The couple was charged with illegal exhumation of a corpse and the farmer with violation of a corpse. All have been given bail and will reappear on April 22.

Meanwhile the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has taken up the case, requesting the NPA to drop the charges against the couple.

Sello Hatang of the SAHRC earlier said that the commission would ensure that the rights of the couple were not trampled further.

Ngwathe mayor Moeketsi Moshodi said they would support the couple and ensure that the child received a decent re-burial.

"We have already bought some groceries and clothes for the couple. We are just waiting for the postmortem results and the funeral arrangements will be finalised."


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