File picture: Skyler Reid.

JOHANNESBURG - The case of reckless and negligent driving opened by police after one-year-old baby Britney Ruguwa was fatally run over by a motorist at the Busy Bears Day Care Centre in Rembrandt Park, Johannesburg, has been changed to culpable homicide, but no arrest had yet been made, Gauteng police said on Sunday. 

"The case has now been changed to culpable homicide, which police will investigate to gather as much information as possible towards establishing the circumstances surrounding the accident and the death of the toddler," Brigadier Mathapelo Peters told African News Agency (ANA).

"Also, a preliminary investigation is under way in the event that should an arrest be effected, the arrest will be within the confines of the law towards a prosecutable case. The station commander [of Sandringham police station] has engaged with the family and will duly ensure that the family is updated on the progress of the case," Peters said.

On Saturday, little Britney's family said the Sandringham police officers turned them away without opening a case, allegedly telling them to return during working hours on Monday.

"We were even at the Sandringham [South African Police Service] SAPS [on Saturday]  evening begging the police officers to arrest the driver, but they tell us we should return on Monday as it is a weekend. The police said the motorist was at the station earlier, and they let him walk. I have lost my bundle of joy, and this is what I get from police," Britney's inconsolable mother Chiedza Sjambok told African News Agency.

Sjambok said she dropped her child at the Busy Bears Day Care Centre when she was going to work on Saturday morning. 

"I received a message from someone saying he is the 'husband of the principal Sikhanyiso', saying they are trying to call me. When I called back, they told me to meet them at Edenvale Hospital because my child has fallen. It was only at the hospital that I got to know that my little angel was fighting for her life, on life support," Sjambok said.

Britney's aunt Veronica alleged the police officers at Sandringham told them they could not open a case because it was "a weekend".

"We were really shocked to hear that we need to come to the station on Monday to open a case. The same police officers tell us that the motorist was at the police station and opened a case of mere negligence. An innocent child is lying in the mortuary right now and we are told to come back on Monday. Doesn't the police work on weekends? This adds massive pain to our sorrow right now.

"Police told us the driver was not arrested. Right now, our neighbours tell us the same driver is driving around with his car. We feel let down by the creche and the police," Veronica said.

African News Agency visited the Sandringham police station on Saturday evening, but police officers referred questions to the station's spokesperson listed on a flashing board as Captain MM Mamabolo, and the station commander given only as L Ndlovu. 

Both did not answer their mobile phones listed in the police station. Peters, from the provincial SAPS, intervened and the family received calls from the station commander.

African News Agency (ANA)