A Mamelodi man who drowned or suffocated his girlfriend’s sixmonth-old baby in a bucket of urine has been found guilty of premeditated murder.
Acting Judge Piet Pistorius found Mandla Chauke, 29, guilty of murdering his girlfriend Tebatso Choche’s baby girl Boikgontsho in his shack in Mamelodi East in December 2016 by placing her in a bucket of urine, tightly closing the lid and putting another heavy bucket with water on top.
The judge accepted Choche’s evidence that she had fled from Chauke’s shack after spending the previous night with him, leaving her sleeping baby behind.
She said Chauke had refused to let her take the baby or her shoes. She reported the matter to the police and asked them to accompany her so she could get her baby.
She was afraid of Chauke because he had assaulted her the previous night and waited at the police station for hours, rather than return to the shack to feed the child.
Chauke told the police Choche’s uncle had fetched the baby and repeated his claim at the police station in the presence of Choche and her uncle.
They returned to Chauke’s shack, where the uncle found Boikgontsho’s body in a sitting position in the bucket with urine and a bucket filled with water on top.
Several witnesses corroborated her version.
Chauke flatly denied any knowledge of the murder, although he admitted he had personally locked his shack before leaving the previous morning. Judge Pistorius described Chauke as “a very poor witness” whose version was “not only improbable”, but “palpably false”.
Chauke’s statement that he did not care for the baby and was only interested in the mother was particularly significant.
He rejected Chauke’s suggestion that the baby was already dead the previous day, saying it was highly unlikely that a mother would walk around with her dead baby on her back and even have sex with the body next to her.
The only inference was that Chauke had killed the baby after his girlfriend left the shack.