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Soweto grandmother Josephine Masingi will never be able to tell her grandson how sorry she is – because Tumelo Masingi, 8, died from his internal injuries after he was allegedly severely beaten up by his grandmother.
According to police, the Grade 2 pupil had been riding his blue bike near the Merafe hostel in Mapetla last week when he was approached by a group of boys who grabbed the bike from him.
“He ran back home to tell his grandmother what had happened,” said Moroka police station spokesman Captain Mpande Khoza.
But instead of comforting Tumelo, Masingi beat him, said Khoza.
Soon after his punishment, he went straight to bed.
But he never woke up again.
Khoza said Tumelo’s parents reported the matter to the police, saying their son had been assaulted by a group of boys.
But it turned out to be the child’s own grandmother, who later confessed that she had given the boy a hiding.
Khoza could not reveal what Masingi used to beat her grandson with and said officers were still investigating.
A Mapetla resident, who did not want to be named, said the grandmother had warned Tumelo on numerous occasions not to play with his bike in the streets.
“I understand that Tumelo has asthma. He was still alive when his grandmother beat him,” the resident said.
Reports indicated that Tumelo’s friends spoke fondly of the boy who, they said, loved playing soccer and riding his bicycle.
“He was a good boy and he was clever at school,” one friend was reported to have said.
Paul Tshabalala, who owns a stall near Tumelo’s house, said it was a shock to hear about his death.
The boy’s family, however, have not yet spoken out about the death of their son, who was buried last Saturday.
In another incident, a Free State couple appeared in the Thaba Nchu Magistrate’s Court on October 6 for allegedly beating their nine-year-old grandson to death and brutally assaulting his twin sister.
Kedibone Thebegae, 68, and her husband, Melamu Thebegae, 70, are alleged to have physically abused the children “on a daily basis”, according to a report.
Police in the Selosesha region are said to have found the lifeless and battered body of the young boy in the house, while his sister had sustained multiple head injuries.
Childline’s Lynne Cawood has expressed her shock at the two incidents.
“This is one of the biggest tragedies in our society.
“It is heartbreaking to think about the number of children that are being murdered daily,” said Cawood.
Cawood said in both incidents the families were showing a sense of ownership over their young children and that they were no longer seen as “separate jewels that had to be guarded”.
“Child abuse has never been condoned in society,” Cawood said. “But to kill a child because his bicycle went missing is a tragedy. Nothing you can do or say will bring the child back. This family will live in trauma for years to come.
“Therefore we appeal to South African families to go back to a culture where children are the most revered people in society,” she said.
Child Abuse Action Group assistant director Lucy Redivo said it was important to understand that beatings were illegal.
“A child should and must be disciplined, but not in this manner. People have become materialistic over lives,” Redivo said, adding that the children who had bullied the boy or stolen the bike had to be dealt with as well, as they had instigated the beatings.
Commenting on the children’s deaths, Sibani Mngadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Children, Women and People with Disabilities, called it “terrifying” and said it wanted clarity on both incidents.
“This is a terrifying incident, especially when the issue of corporal punishment has been dealt with in the past. Children should not be abused in this manner.
“We sincerely hope the law will take its course immediately against the people responsible for this,” said the spokesman.
Mgandi said the department hoped to get further details about the incident and urged parents and families to respect the rights of children and afford them a chance to grow up in a secure environment.
Meanwhile, Masingi appeared in the Protea Magistrate Court this week. She was granted bail of R1 000. Her murder case was postponed until next week. - Saturday Star