***COPY PIC***L-R: Moses Nhanzi(2 yrs), Sonia Covane (29 yrs) and Jovase (7yrs). A 29 year old woman named as Sonia Covane allegedly murdered her 2 children and then committed suicide in the Shaumburg Informal Settlement outside Haartesbeespoort. 031212. Picture: Chris Collingridge 477

Johanensburg - Did a 29-year-old woman approach each of her four children as they slept, clasped her hands around their little necks and strangle them?

Orzito, 10, Jovase, 7, Moses, 7, and three-month-old Nelson Nhanzi were found dead on the morning of December 2 in their shack in the Shaumburg informal settlement at Hartbeespoort.

Initially, the children’s mother, Sonia Covane, was believed to have poisoned her kids, because foam was found on Nelson’s mouth.

However, Lieutenant-Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone, of the North West police, said on Tuesday the children were strangled, and a formal inquest would explain more.

Reshpito Nhanzi, Covane’s husband, woke up at about 9am on Sunday - the day that the children died - and was surprised that his tiny shack was quiet and without the normal chit-chat and laughter of his children.

He saw that the last-born, who slept with Covane on the other bed, Nelson, was covered with a blanket.

“I opened the blanket and saw foam coming from his mouth. I touched him and he was cold. I went to the others who were sleeping on the floor and they were also cold,” Reshpito said. His wife of 11 years, Covane, was nowhere to be seen.

She had allegedly got out the house, closed the door and walked barefoot and without a jersey or an umbrella for a kilometre in the rain and in the early morning chill.

She stopped in the bushes, took out a belt and hanged herself.

A resident, who was one of the few who had volunteered to go and look for her, came across her lifeless body hanging from a tree later in the evening. Speaking to The Star on Tuesday, Nhanzi said he was still in shock.

He said the police had told him that paint was found in the children’s stomachs.

“I do not know what to think. I have not even spoken to my wife’s family as they have not come here since the incident. I am all alone and my life is just filled with sadness,” the 35-year-old man said.

Even though Nhanzi’s family died two weeks ago, he has not buried them as he does not have money.

He has asked for assistance from the municipality and is waiting for a response.

He has decided to bury the children in Oukasie, Brits, instead of sending the bodies to Mozambique, where he, his wife and three of their children were born.

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The Star