Durban - A 14-month-old boy was rescued on Sunday after spending hours tied to his mother’s corpse, a few metres from the bodies of his three brothers and two sisters.
The family, who lived in a neat house in Inanda, north of Durban, had all been stabbed to death.
The bodies of the children – aged three, five, seven, nine and 14 – had been stacked in the bathroom while their mother was found int he passage with the baby strapped to her. The toddler was unhurt but dehydrated and hungry.
Police spokesman Vincent Mdunge said the 38-year-old woman owned a tuck shop with her husband. The killings were thought to have taken place on Saturday.
Police were still awaiting the results of post-mortems to confirm their suspicions. The woman’s husband was making a statement to police late on Sunday.
Mdunge said the baby was taken to a clinic for medical attention. He was then given to relatives..
The dead woman’s brother-in-law raised the alarm on Sunday morning. According to Mdunge, he had tried to contact her on Saturday but, when he could not raise her, went to the house on Sunday.
Neighbours, who asked not to be named out of fear, said the brother-in-law arrived, went inside and soon afterwards came running out, shouting: “Everyone in the house has been killed.”
“When I entered the house I saw the body of the woman in the passage. She was covered in blood and there was a child – who was alive but not crying – beside her,” said one neighbour. “In the the bathroom, we found the bodies of his brothers and sisters.”
The children were “always playing outside”, said the neighbour, and would often be seen walking to the shop or to school.
One neighbour said she saw their mother on Thursday but since then she had not noticed any activity in the house.
“The doors were shut and the curtains drawn,” she said. “I thought they had gone on holiday.”
Mdunge called the crime a “mystery”. He said nothing had been stolen and there was no sign of forced entry.
The house was cordoned off and forensic experts were at the scene.
“A case of six counts of murder with aggravating circumstances was opened at Inanda police station and a task team will be established to find the killer,” said Mdunge.
As of Sunday evening, there had been no arrests.
The names of the dead have not been released as the woman’s relatives have not been informed.