Woman’s hell in chains

2012-07-28 00:00

A PREGNANT woman, believed by police to be possibly mentally challenged, endured a horrific nine months living in captivity with her hands and feet bound in chains, lying on her back, face up.

She was forced to give birth in these conditions and later hear that her newborn baby had been buried outside the house where she was being held captive.

“She was bound with gigantic chains and looked as though she was suffering from malnutrition,” said the councillor of eVuma, near Eshowe, Zamokwakhe Mhlongo.

He said the community was shocked by what it saw on Thursday. “I took pictures of the baby just when the police were excavating it from the ground.”

Mhlongo said the woman was kept in a rondavel not fit for a human being. “It was too filthy for words.”

The 24-year-old victim, of Empangeni, is believed to be an orphan who was adopted by a local woman and put through school.

But later her carer turned tormenter.

The councillor said the victim had to drop out of school because her eyesight was bad.

She then fell pregnant. The baby was born last month.

“We’re told that the woman said the victim owes her R2 000 which she spent for her schooling.”

A 48-year-old woman and her customary law husband (58) are facing charges of murder and kidnapping following the discovery.

The councillor thinks the fact that the woman owed the suspect money was the reason she kept her as a “slave”.

The suspect apparently asked boys to dig a hole in her yard, telling them she was going to build a toilet.

But she used it to bury the victim’s newborn baby, which was delivered in her house, affording the victim no medical assistance.

“It’s sad and heartbreaking,” Mhlongo added.

A headman from eVuma, Fano Meyeza, said it was evident that the victim had not seen sunlight for a long time.

Meyeza said her nails were long and she was pale.

“She told us that she was only fed [porridge] once a day. She also looked nervous as she shared her story,” he added.

She was allegedly threatened at gunpoint not to disclose her situation.

The councillor said he believed the woman was not mentally challenged, but merely suffering from the after-effects of the intense trauma she had experienced.

Meyeza said it was thought the baby was born alive, but this could not be confirmed.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge said the police discovered the body while looking for the suspect, as she had been linked to a plot to kill a local induna,

The husband was found in possession of dagga.

The woman suspect was not present, but was arrested in the town of Eshowe later that day.

KZN provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni condemned the “demonic” act, and said the perpetrator must be given the harshest sentence permitted by law.

“The victim had gone through untold pain and suffering and we hope that with professional medical care and counselling she will find her place back in society,” she said.

Liezl van der Merwe, Inkatha Freedom Party member on the portfolio committee on women, children and people with disabilities, said it was “unfortunately not an isolated incident”.

“Our prayers go out to this young woman and we hope that her story will be a wake-up call to the government that much more must be done to protect one of the most vulnerable sections of our society,” Van der Merwe said.

The police told Weekend Witness that they had not traced the victim’s family by the time of going to press.

The victim is being treated in hospital.

Mdunge said the pair would make an appearance in the Eshowe Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

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