POLICE are investigating the deaths of a Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, mother’s two children following her confession at the weekend that she had murdered her third child, whose body was found among bushes a few days ago.
Zulpha Jacobs, 30, was due to appear in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court today on a charge of murder and another of child abandonment in connection with her two-year-old son Tariq’s death. Tariq is the third of her children, all of whom were two years old or younger, to have died in about a decade.
Jacobs had reported Tariq missing on Thursday, but two days later, police found his body on dunes behind Imperial Primary School in Beacon Valley.
Jacobs had then confessed to killing him, said police spokesman November Filander. She was then arrested.
Filander confirmed that officers were relooking at the deaths of at least two other of Jacobs’s children.
“The investigating officer will look into her pregnancies and what exactly happened to the children,” he said.
Yesterday, Jacobs’s father, Shahied Jappie, sat in his Lentegeur home and shook his head as he chatted about the eldest of his four children. Jappie said he was angry that the police were relooking at the deaths of his daughter’s first two children only now.
He said the investigating officer had visited the family home on Sunday and he had been trying to help with the probe.
“What went wrong?” he asked.
According to Jappie:
lIn 2001, Jacobs’s first child, a daughter aged a year and nine months, died a suspected cot death. He said the girl was fed porridge and her lips had become blue afterwards.
lIn 2008, Jacobs’s second child, a boy aged two, drank liquid used to clean CDs, and this had apparently caused his death.
On Saturday, Jappie and Jacobs’s brother-in-law, Moroka Swallows soccer player Ashraf Hendricks, had gone to the scene shortly after Tariq’s body was found.
Jappie said Tariq’s feet had been covered with newspaper and a jacket placed over his body.
Hendricks said there had not been a mark on Tariq’s body.
He said he and Jacobs’s family planned to be at court today when she appeared.
“It doesn’t mean we support what she did. She confessed, and whatever she did, she needs to be punished, but we’ll be there to support her,” Hendricks said.
Jappie said he had often read about residents protesting outside courts when suspected criminals appeared. “But now it’s happening to me. I can’t believe it. I ask myself: what did I do wrong?”
Yesterday, Farida Jacobs, Tariq’s grandmother, said her son Walied Jacobs, 25, the boy’s father, was distraught.
“He has gone for a walk. It’s almost like he’s in denial, because he told his friend that if he gets hold of the person who did this, he’s really going to do something,” she said.
Farida said her son had fathered Tariq and Jacobs’s first son, who died in 2008.
“Their first boy was named Sabri. Zulpha fell pregnant with Sabri about a month after she and Walied met,” she said.
Farida said the couple got married, but had a rocky relationship and separated for the second time after Tariq’s birth.
She said Jacobs had run a creche in the area and had also worked as a lifeguard.
“I can’t believe what has happened… I’m going to miss Tariq. The last time I saw him was on Wednesday. We had so much fun in the kitchen.
“I just can’t believe we’re going through the same thing again. A second boy gone. Both my son’s children are gone,” Farida said.
Mitchells Plain Community Police Forum chairman Michael Jacobs said that when Jacobs appeared in court today, he would make it known that the forum, on behalf of a number of residents, wanted her to be denied bail.