'My child came back a corpse'

POLICE in Warden on the KwaZulu-Natal-Free State border have opened an inquest docket into the death of a toddler who allegedly ate rat poison at a crèche.

POLICE in Warden on the KwaZulu-Natal-Free State border have opened an inquest docket into the death of a toddler who allegedly ate rat poison at a crèche.

The crèche has been shut down after the municipality discovered that it was operating illegally.

Siyabonga Mthombeni was in the care of the creche owner when he was found dead on August 14.

Sowetan learnt yesterday that 20 children were registered at the crèche, each paying R80 a month. The owner, Joyee Ngcobo, has reportedly fled the area fearing for her life .

Angry residents said Siyabonga's death was not the first case of negligence against the crèche.

Siyabonga's mother, Busisiwe Dlamini of Ezenzeleni, said she was devastated by her loss. She said she wanted justice over the death of her child.

She said Ngcobo had told her that she was not aware the child had died and had ordered an employee to take him home because she thought he had fainted.

"She sent my child home dead. I left my baby in her care without any sign of sickness. This was not the first time she was negligent with my baby. At times I would get there to find that his nappy had not been changed."

Ward councillor Smody Tshabalala conceded that Ngcobo had left town for a while after the incident. He said he was not aware of the crèche's existence.

"We are waiting for forensic results before taking action against the crèche owner. We cannot have illegal crèches. It is unsafe," Tshabalala said.

The police said postmortem results had shown an "unusual substance" in the child's body.

"These have been sent to the forensic laboratory in Pretoria, after which we will decide whether or not to open a case of culpable homicide," said police spokesperson Chris Swart.

Mandla Ngema, of the KwaZulu-Natal department of social development, said they would investigate the matter.

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