How mom killed son
While police led convicted child murderer Zulpha Jacobs away to start her lengthy prison sentence, her family still wanted to know what turned her into a killer.
The Cape Town mother was convicted of suffocating her two-year-old son, Mogamat Taariq Jacobs.
Jacobs's case also strained relations between her family and her in-laws. Sister-in-law Tawgheeda Davids said seeing Jacobs in "chains" was heartbreaking.
"We didn't expect this from her because she is the sweetest in our family. Only God will know what happened that day," said Davids.
"Today was just very hard for all of us. But we got to a point where the two families could hug each other."
Jacobs, 30, entered into a plea bargain with the state, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Yesterday, the Cape Town High Court was provided with a chilling account of the murder.
The court heard that Jacobs was separated from the child's father Walied Jacobs and that, on December 29, the day of the murder, she was in the kitchen with a friend when the child cried for "more porridge".
"The accused shouted at him and said that there was no more porridge. Shareen Damon overhead the accused shouting to the deceased that 'I wish you can go out of my life'."
Jacobs also said: "You make my life miserable, ek maak jou sommer vrek [I'll make you dead]."
"The accused walked with the deceased to the bushes near Riley Road in Mitchells Plain. She pushed his face into the sand until he did not breathe [or move]. She covered him with a jacket and covered his feet with newspaper."
She then went to the police station and reported that her son had gone missing in the town centre in Mitchells Plain.
She pleaded guilty to murder and defeating the administration of justice. In handing down the sentence, the court considered that: "The incidence of offences such as the present are prevalent and increasing.
"These offences are particularly serious since the accused was his mother, his provider and his safeguard."
SHOCKING FIND ON CHILD ABUSE
MOTHERS of children younger than five are often responsible for child murders.
This was reported in a recent study, "Child Homicide Patterns", by the Medical Research Council.
The study looked at the 1018 child murders in 2009 and 44.6% were found to be due child abuse and neglect. A large number of the victims were girls under the age five.
The director of the UCT Children's Institute, Shanaaz Mathews who co-authored the study, said: "This is the tip of the problem when it comes to child abuse. Most cases of child abuse do not end up in murders, but so many murders are taking place."
She said there were no accurate figures on the scale of child abuse in South Africa.
"We don't know the prevalence. There are no systemic studies to quantify the abuse."
She said this was because many cases are not reported to the police: "They are reported to social services."
Mathews said social services did not collate the numbers and quantify them.
Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre researcher and policy analyst Lisa Vetten said "inadequacy" in the police and among social workers had an influence on the lack of solved cases.
"There is a horrible mismatch between these two entities. Most cases are reported during weekends or after hours, when social workers are not available for referrals or take a long time to do so."
South Africa has just over 15000 registered social workers but Mathews said many who worked with children were "doing foster grant applications and department of social development child grant applications" and not helping families in crisis. - Poppy Louw and Katharine Child