A grass cutter from Estcourt in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands has found the skeletal remains of a burnt baby in an open field.
The baby is thought to have perished in a fire. The worker also found burnt remains of clothing and a feeding bottle.
Police have sent the remains for forensic tests but think the child may have been abandoned by the mother in the field.
Police spokesman Charmaine Struwig said the resident who discovered the baby was cutting grass in an open area in Patterson Road.
The area had also experienced a runaway veld fire a fortnight ago and it is suspected that the baby could already have been lying there when the fire swept through.
Struwig said the gender, race and age of the child was unknown at this stage.
"It is not clear what might be the cause of death," said Struwig.
"But we have opened an inquest docket. We appeal to the community to assist police in finalising the inquest case."
The area where the baby was found is close to homes currently occupied by police officers.
Local ward councillor Nyanda Mchunu expressed shock at the discovery.
"It's a very sad moment for us as the community in the area," he said. "We have never experienced such a terrible thing in our area before. It's very hard to imagine what had happened to a woman to decide to abandon her child"
He said they had formed a partnership in his ward with the different government departments to assist poor people.
"It is unacceptable for a mother to abandon her child.
"There are many alternatives available when mothers find themselves in a difficult situation," Mchunu said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Inspector Siyabonga Kheswa at 083-666-9475 or 036-342-9514.