A Mamelodi man who is accused of murdering his girlfriend’s six-month-old baby daughter by drowning her in a bucket of urine claims the baby may already have been dead the previous night.
Mandla Chauke, 29, of a squatter camp in Mamelodi East, told the high court he knew nothing about six-month-old Boikgontsho Choche’s death in December 2016, and had no idea how the baby came to be placed in the bucket with a second heavy water bucket on top.
He said he was surprised when the police informed him that the baby’s body had been found in his shack. Pathologist Dr Servaas Rossouw testified the cause of the baby’s death was consistent with drowning, but it was also possible that she could have suffocated.
He said the baby’s airways contained murky mucus, which was probably the result of breathing against resistance, which could include asphyxia as a cause of death.
Chauke told the court he had met the baby’s mother, Tebatso, for the first time that day after her uncle suggested that he was looking for someone to look after her.
He described going shopping for liquor and the mother going to a salon before they arrived at home late that night. He was concerned about the baby and made porridge for her as the mother had not fed her the whole day.
He said the baby had not cried once and the mother never took the child off her back except when she put it on the bed that night.
After they had dinner and alcohol, she moved the baby to the far corner of the bed, which he said was “maybe because the baby was already dead” and she did not want him to notice.
He claimed they had consensual sex and he was surprised when she left but returned with the police the next morning claiming he had raped her.
He denied refusing the mother permission to take her baby with her or that she was looking for the baby.
Chauke said he gave the police permission to search his shack because he “knew nothing”, although he admitted telling them the baby’s uncle had fetched her.
The trial continues.