Warning: This story contains graphic details.
KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza on Sunday expressed shock and dismay at the "barbaric murder of a toddler".
The body of a three-year-old boy was found at the weekend with a nail driven through his skull and his eyes and genitals removed. The mutilated body of a child was located by family in a dense bush in Thembalihle area in Estcourt, Uthukela District on Friday.
Police said earlier on Sunday that a relative was arrested at Estcourt after the mutilated body of the child was found with a nail inserted into its skull.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said it is alleged that on Thursday, 26 November at 9 am, the child's grandmother was at her home at Thembelihle near Estcourt with her three-year-old grandson when a man known to her went into her house and took the toddler.
On Friday, when the grandmother returned home from work, she noticed that the child was not at home. The man was questioned about the whereabouts of the child but he became violent, said Gwala.
"That is when the family members decided to search for the missing child. At 2 pm, the child was found in the bushes with a nail inserted into his skull and mutilated."
The police were immediately alerted and responded to the scene.
"A 36-year-old man was then placed under arrest for murder. The missing body parts were found inside the suspect's house. The suspect is due to appear before the Estcourt Magistrates' Court [on Monday].
The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula condemned the brutal killing of the innocent child.
“I am glad that the suspect is behind the bars to answer for his evil deeds,” he said.
MEC Khoza said the family found the child's body "in a terrible state dumped in the bush". Khoza said it was disheartening that while the country observed 16 Days of Activism for No-Violence Against Women and Children, there were such gruesome murders in the province.
"Police must quickly conclude the investigation and arrest the perpetrators involved in this murder of an innocent child. The police investigation should dig deeper on how this child went missing at his home...This is tragic and the family need to find closure following this murder," she said.
Khoza said government was in deep pain that women and children's lives continued to perish at the hands of the people they entrusted with their lives.
"We call on members of the society to isolate those involved in such gruesome murders," she added. "We are unapologetic in calling for maximum jail sentences for those convicted for the murder of women and children. We want to see anyone involved in any form of gender-based violence removed from society and kept in prison for life. We have too many women and children murdered in our province and the country," she said.
Khoza also condemned the illegal connection of electricity, which continues to rob the country of lives of innocent children after three children were electrocuted at the Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg yesterday. Read here: Three children electrocuted at Jika Joe informal settlement
"The municipalities must ensure that all those involved in illegal connection of electricity face the law. They should be accountable for the murder of innocent children. Our children are unable to play freely because of criminals who continue to rob the state through illegal connections. We call on municipal authorities, including the law enforcement agencies to have no single iota of mercy on murderers of women and children."
She added that as government continued with promotion of women and children rights it was imperative that no criminal would be off the hook."We will continue to raise awareness within society to highlight the gravity of these violent crimes directed at women and children. But we want every sector to play its part to curtail these violation of women and children rights." The MEC also sent her heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their children. Team of social workers have been deployed to these two separate incidents to provide psychosocial support to the affected families.