945 Thokozani Mali gets emotional during the funeral of her daughter and niece at Diepsloot regional cemetery where the raped and murdered toddlers were laid to rest. 191013. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - Police are taking a hard line in Diepsloot over child neglect after another baby was found dead in a stream while the community buried two toddlers who were murdered last week.

In a separate incident, police arrested the mother of two young children after she left them at home while she allegedly went out drinking.

On Saturday, residents gathered to bury two-year-old Yonelisa Mali and her cousin, three-year-old Zandile Mali, who were found in a communal toilet cubicle in Extension 1 on Tuesday.

A marquee was erected outside the home of the girls’ mothers, Thokozani and Sisanda Mali.

“The service was emotional, it was very sad,” said Nthabiseng Lehabe, a colleague of Thokozani and Sisanda’s older sister, Yolanda Mali.

During the service, police were told that a baby’s body was floating in a stream that runs through extensions 6 and 7.

“While we were at the funeral, I got a call and had to go to the scene,” said Major-General Oswald Reddy, Honeydew cluster commander.

 

He said the baby was about two weeks old and that, judging by the way the umbilical cord was cut, the boy was born in a hospital.

Because of this, investigators were looking at recent births in surrounding hospitals and performing DNA tests on the child to find his mother.

A murder case had been opened, Reddy said.

Meanwhile, a 21-year-old mother was arrested in the same area that the Mali cousins’ bodies were found after police were told she had left her one-year-old boy and three-year-old girl home alone.

“Police went to her residence and removed the children. Their mother was traced in the same area and arrested. It is believed that she is abusing alcohol,” police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said.

 

“Police believe these children are in need of care and are exposed to serious mental and physical harm or are in danger from the criminal elements,” he said.

The woman was expected to appear at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday charged with child neglect, while her children have been moved to a place of safety.

“We’re going to take a hardline stand now; the police are not a crèche to look after children. Although we are the guardians of children, there has to be some responsibility from the parents,” Reddy said.

 

On Friday, the main suspect in the cousins’ murders was arrested, and police said they were looking at the possibility he was also responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Anelise Mkhondo, 5, last month. She was snatched outside her home near where the cousins were found.

 

The four others arrested in the Mali case were also expected to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

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The Star