girl (4) survives 21-hour rooftop hostage drama

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

A four-year-old girl has been admitted to hospital after a 21-hour hostage drama in which her young father threatened to slit her throat with a butcher's knife.

The events unfolded on the rooftop of a house in Alexandria Trust near Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga.

The father, Solly Mpunzi, 21, had menacingly placed the knife against the child's throat during the drama that began at about 8am on Sunday and lasted until 4.45am yesterday.

Sowetan arrived on the scene shortly after 5pm and found Mpunzi on the roof of his father's house, holding the hysterically crying child.

"If anyone comes closer this child dies right here, right now," Mpunzi warned, threatening to plunge the knife into the child's heart.

Police arrived in droves, among them negotiators Captain Phillip Fakude and Inspector Sipho Nkambule.

Mpunzi shouted at his parents, saying they had caused the problem.

"You saw my wife doing things with other men and failed to tell me," he said. "You even sacrificed me to businessmen who want to cut my body for muti and you think I don't know."

As the hours went by police officers with itchy fingers suggested that Mpunzi should be shot dead. But the negotiators persuaded them to leave the scene with Mpunzi and his daughter alive.

Mpumalanga police spokesman Superintendent Abie Khoabane, an expert hostage negotiator, was the first to sneak into the yard to try and convince Mpunzi to surrender.

Khoabane used a ladder to climb on to the roof but fell at least three times, once head first, when the ladder gave way under his weight.

Nkambule took over and became a hero when he coaxed Mpunzi into handing over the child.

The child's mother, Lerato Theko, 18, cried when she was reunited with her child. They were taken to hospital in an ambulance while Mpunzi was arrested.