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Kimberley - Three weeks after the burial of a six-day-old baby, the grave of the infant was found open and it was discovered that the clothes had been stolen off the body.
The nappy of baby Keketso Moilwa had been placed on top of the small white coffin. A rusty metal plate, which is believed to have been used to dig open the grave, was also in the hole.
The gruesome discovery was made by a municipal worker at the West End Cemetery in Kimberley on Tuesday morning, who reported it to his supervisor.
The open grave was close to new graves being dug by cemetery workers in preparation for burials.
Shocked workers refused to open the coffin until the arrival of the police, who had been summoned. Initially it was unclear whether the body was still inside the coffin.
When the police arrived, the coffin was opened and it was discovered that, while the body was still there, the baby’s clothes were missing. Only the naked body of the infant was left inside the coffin.
Shocked family members, who had been informed of the discovery and had gathered at the scene, showed photos on their cellphones of how baby Moilwa had been dressed in a three-piece white outfit for her final resting place.
A representative of Keipoletse Funeral Undertakers also confirmed that the body was fully dressed when it was buried.
Family members, who peered into the grave, demanded that the baby’s remains be sent away for analysis to determine whether the body had been tampered with in any way.
The child’s 20-year-old mother, Bianca Moilwa, who was accompanied by her own mother, Amanda Moilwa, appeared dazed and shocked by the desecration of her child’s grave.
“Who could have done such a despicable and inhuman act and why steal my daughter’s clothes?” Bianca asked.
“Just when I was coming to terms with her death and trying to heal, this horrible, evil act has happened.”
The mother said baby Moilwa was born at 31 weeks, weighing only 1.3kg.
“She was admitted to Kimberley Mediclinic’s Intensive Care Unit for six days before passing away.”
Moilwa added that she had come through an extremely traumatic period in her life because she blamed herself for the baby’s death.
“I thought I did something wrong during my pregnancy that caused me to go into labour early. She looked just like me, with long curly hair and was light in complexion.
“She was going to be my pride and joy and I named her Keketso, which means more to come,” Moilwa said.
“I don’t know why someone would target this specific grave. We were planning to put up a tombstone for her next year.”
Amanda said it was traumatic for the family to be told that her grandchild’s grave had been tampered with.
“Who would want to steal a dead baby’s clothes and what will they do with the clothes?” she asked.
“When we buried her, we never placed anything on top of the white coffin, only flowers. The presence of the nappy proves that the coffin was opened.
“The police must investigate this incident further. Whoever is responsible must be caught and held responsible,” Amanda said.
“I never believed something like this would ever happen to us. This is something you only read about or see on television.”
She also said the family would now wait for the forensic pathologists to do their investigations and check if the body had been tampered with.
“Then we will rebury our baby.”
Shocked workers at the cemetery said it was the first incident of its kind at the West End Cemetery and there were fears that the incident could be related to witchcraft.
One worker said they were aware that people use muti to bewitch the graves of their loved ones so that they weren’t tampered with.
“Now we understand the significance of these acts.”
Others expressed concern that although the body had not been taken, it was uncertain what the perpetrators intended doing with the clothes or what actually transpired when the grave was opened.
“Why was this grave tampered with and not the graves of others who were buried before and after her?”
Spokesman for the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, confirmed that municipal workers at the cemetery noticed that the grave had been disturbed and informed their supervisor, who contacted the family.
“We are extremely disturbed at the recent incidents where graves have been desecrated. This is the fourth incident recently and it is very upsetting to know that not even the dead can rest in peace.”
Matsie added that it was a criminal offence to desecrate graves.
“It also causes additional trauma for the family of the deceased, as well as trauma for our own workers, who have to open the coffins and rebury the remains.”
He said that in this incident, no-one had been arrested yet.
“The police and the municipality’s security personnel do conduct regular patrols at the city’s graveyards, but we also appeal to members of the public to report any suspicious behaviour to the police.”
He added that the municipality expressed its sincerest condolences to the family of the child, whose remains were disturbed.
“The municipality is the custodian of the graveyards and we have an obligation to provide a dignified and secure place of rest for the city’s dead.”
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