Mpumalanga police have arrested and kept a 16-year-old girl behind bars for more than the legal number of hours before taking her to court.
This follows the death of the girl's baby boy, whom she allegedly strangled.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Abie Khoabane confirmed that the girl would only appear in court today despite the fact that she was arrested on Friday afternoon.
The girl, from Sheepmoor near Ermelo, allegedly strangled her one-and-a-half-year-old baby before putting his body in a plastic bag.
Police, who were acting on a tip-off, found the girl in possession of the dead child as she walked along the street, possibly on her way to dispose of the body.
She was arrested and charged with murder before being locked up at the local police station.
Police said the motive for the killing was unknown, but investigations were continuing.
Asked why the girl was not taken to court within 48 hours, as stipulated by law, Khoabane tried to defend the police.
"Sheepmoor has a periodical court that sits on Thursdays only, hence we have decided to take the accused to the Amsterdam magistrate's court tomorrow," Khoabane said yesterday.
Pressed for comment on weather the police were not undermining the rights of an arrested person by failing to bring her to court either on Monday or yesterday, Khoabane said: "You are a South African and you know for sure that these things always happen in this country.
"Why do you want to make it an issue that she was not taken to court on Monday or Tuesday?"
Khoabane subsequentlyadmitted that the police had acted wrongfully by not bringing the girl to court within the specified period.
"It is wrong on our side not to have taken her to court within the legal 48-hour period, " Khoabane said.
"A detainee should stay in a cell before appearing in front of a magistrate."
He promised to look into the matter with the possibility of making "special arrangements" for the girl to appear in court yesterday, but no such arrangements had been concluded at the time of going to press.