Poverty is believed to be what drove an Eastern Cape mother to poison her three kids, before taking her own life.
This tragedy unfolded in the early hours of Monday morning in Lusikisiki, in the Eastern Cape.
Provincial police spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu said it is alleged Veziwe Ntsizela, 41, woke up her four daughters, aged between four and 14, from their sleep and told them to join her for a prayer in another room.
The children had been asleep with their grandmother.
"Instead, the children were taken to the forest in the Luzuphu locality, where they were allegedly forced to drink life-threatening pills," she said.
Naidu said the 14-year-old daughter resisted and managed to run away.
"The child sought help from a nearby homestead, and police were notified. The bodies of the three children were found, however, the mother was missing," Naidu said.
On Tuesday morning (September 12), the mother’s body was found in dense bushes by the Grahamstown Search and Rescue Unit.
Her body was less than 100 metres from her children, police said.
Police said the three female victims were identified as Iyapha Ntsizela, 4, Phila Ntsizela, 8, and 12-year-old Inga Ntsizela.
"Police are investigating three counts of murder and an inquest.
"Preliminary investigations suggest that poverty may have been a motivating factor for this tragedy," Naidu said.
Naidu said it was not the first incident of this nature to take place in the Eastern Cape.
Last month in Butterworth, a mother also poisoned and killed her three children.
The Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Nomthetheleli Mene, expressed her concern.
"If the motive was allegedly driven by poverty, this raises a profound concern about the struggles that some members of our community face daily.
"This is a stark reminder of the importance of reaching out to those in need, offering support, and fostering a sense of family within our community.
"Poverty should never drive anyone to such a desperate and tragic act, and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victims," Mene said.
* Anyone with thoughts of suicide can call Sadag 080 056 7567 or SMS 31393.