3 baby ritual women free, mom charged

Luzuko Pongoma

Luzuko Pongoma

Criminal charges against three of the four women who were arrested while performing a bizarre ritual on a one-month-old baby have been dropped.

But the mother will still have to face the music. The 30-year-old mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, has been charged with child abuse.

She appeared in the Johannesburg child court yesterday and was granted bail of R1000.

Police spokesperson Bhekizizwe Mavundla said the women, believed to be the baby's aunts, hail from North West.

He said police did not know the woman's current address because they were moving out of the flat in Braamfontein on the day they were arrested.

Mavundla said the case was handed over to the child protection unit for further investigation. He said the child would be kept in a place of safety.

The women were arrested on Thursday after Hillbrow police received a complaint of child abuse from concerned residents at corner De Beers and Stiemens streets in Braamfontein.

The police found the four women performing some kind of ritual - tossing the baby in the air and throwing her from one pair of hands to the other. The women could not explain to the police what they were doing and they were all bundled into a waiting police van and taken to the Hillbrow police station.

The baby was taken to the Door of Hope, a children's home in Berea.