A MAMELODI East man accused of drowning his girlfriend’s six-month-old baby daughter in a bucket of urine, said he was extremely surprised when the mother and the police discovered the baby’s body in the bucket, with a second heavy bucket of water on top of it, in his room.
The body of little Tebatso Choche was discovered in the 20 litre bucket, which had a lid on. Another 20 litre bucket, filled with water, was placed on top of the bucket in which the baby was.
Mandla Chauke, 29, pleaded not guilty in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to murdering the baby. He told Acting Judge Piet Pistorius that he has no idea how the baby came to be inside the bucket.
Chauke took the stand this week and testified that the baby may have already been dead the previous night. This was because the baby did not cry the entire time he was with the mother, Boikgontsho Choche, in his shack.
But Chauke testified that he did not really check if the baby was alive or not, as he decided to continue drinking with the mother.
“You know, sometimes when you are drinking, you make mistakes,” he told Judge Pistorius.
The mother earlier testified that when she found the dead child inside the bucket, she rushed her baby daughter to hospital, but the child was already declared dead on arrival.
Pathologist Dr Servaas Rossouw this week testified that the cause of death was consistent with drowning, but it is also possible that she could have suffocated in the tightly closed bucket.
The mother testified that on November 15, 2016, she and the baby came from Mpumalanga to visit Chauke at his home.He fetched her and the baby in Marabastad and took them to his house.
That night Chauke wanted to have sex with Choche, but she refused. He allegedly slapped her several times. The terrified Choche left her house very early the next morning under the pretext of going to the shop to buy food for breakfast.
She left the sleeping baby with Chauke. She later returned with the police, but Chauke said her uncle took the baby. When she phoned the uncle, he denied he had the child. She and the police then made the grisly discovery inside his shack.
Chauke testified that after fetching the mother, they only arrived home late. She carried the baby the entire day on her back and he offered to make the child some porridge, as he was worried about her.
According to Chauke the mother refused to feed the child and she took her off her back only when she put her on the bed later. He said she moved the baby to the far end of the bed and he thought the baby was dead and she did not want him to notice.
The State, during cross-examination on Tuesday, put it to him that the child was not dead, but that he actually wanted her dead so that he could “get it on” with the mother. Chauke denied this and said the baby did not bother him at all.
It was also put to him that after the mother left early the next morning to summon the police for help and left her baby with him, he drowned the child in the bucket. Chauke denied this. He, however, could not explain how the child landed-up in the bucket.
He admitted that the bucket was filled with his and his girlfriend’s urine.