DURBAN - A 20-year-old Phoenix man, who allegedly recorded a video of a 4-year-old girl being beaten by her mother, handed himself over to police on Friday after his bail was revoked.
The man also apparently feared for his life after his car was set alight by angry residents on Thursday night. In the one-minute, 58-second video that went viral on social media this week, the mother was seen repeatedly kicking and hitting the child, while the man, believed to be her boyfriend, lay on a bed and recorded the incident.
To protect the child’s identity, they cannot be named. In the video of the assault, the mother is heard saying: “You are making me go off my head. I’m having a nervous breakdown.”
She and her boyfriend were arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm. The charge was upgraded to attempted murder after the video surfaced.
The couple appeared in the Verulam magistrate’s court on Wednesday and were released on R3 000 bail each. After growing calls from the community for their bail to be revoked, police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that bail had been revoked on Friday.
The child was taken to hospital with severe injuries, including swollen legs, internal bleeding and a blood clot in the brain.
People expressed their disgust on social media. Many posted messages on the mother’s Facebook page, attacking her for her actions.
The woman allegedly told police her boyfriend had threatened to kill her if she did not hit the child while he videoed the beating.
Alvin Brijlal of the Victim Outreach and Information Centre, who lodged a complaint against the mother and her boyfriend, said it was a horrific matter to deal with.
He said the video had initially been sent to him last Saturday. On seeing it, immediate attempts had been made to locate the child and the mother.
“When I met the child, I was devastated by her injuries. Her legs were so swollen that you could not touch them. Her mother initially lied, claiming the child fell off a bicycle. When I showed her the video, she said she hit the child because of her boyfriend,” said Brijlal.
He said there were allegations that the child’s biological father had reached out to Phoenix Child Welfare for help in the past, but the organisation had failed to assist.
Phoenix Child Welfare director Aroona Chetty said it was investigating. She said the child’s father had approached them to assist with care and custody.
“The issues of abuse were never brought up. We referred the parent to the office of the family advocate for further assistance. The issues of abuse only surfaced when the video went viral,” said Chetty.
She said the organisation understood the community’s outrage and concern, but calm was needed.
“We are doing everything in our power to achieve an outcome in the best interests of the child,” she said.
Gwala confirmed that the two now face an attempted murder charge. She said the couple’s bail had been revoked on Friday.
“The boyfriend handed himself over to police while the mother's attorney has been informed that her bail is revoked,” said Gwala.
Gwala also confirmed a case of malicious damage to property had been opened at Phoenix police station regarding the boyfriend's car.
Gwala warned that the community should not take the law into their own hands as vigilantism will not be tolerated.