Suicidal mom ‘gave child lethal milkshake’

A primary school pupil died after drinking a milkshake laced with sleeping pills, allegedly prepared by her mother following a lovers’ tiff.

Police are still waiting to take a statement from the Jeffreys Bay woman, who remains in a Port Elizabeth hospital after failing in a bid to end her own life.

Having laced her nine-year-old daughter’s milkshake on the evening of April 19, she too swallowed some pills after an earlier argument with her boyfriend, according to police.

Police spokeswoman Captain Gerda Swart said when the mother woke up the next morning, the child was dead. The woman then allegedly slit her wrists. “At this stage of the investigation, I cannot give any information but the mother was admitted to hospital on Thursday,” Swart said.

“Police are yet to take her statement because, when ambulances arrived on the scene, she was immediately taken to hospital.”

The identities of the mother and child are being withheld until a decision is made on charges.

Shocked neighbours described the dead girl as a loving, respectful and soft-spoken child, who always greeted her elders and played happily with the younger children in the Tulip Avenue complex where they lived. She attended Jeffreys Bay Primary School. Ina Henning, whose husband is the caretaker of the complex, said they were notified at about noon on Thursday by a neighbour, who had called her house to ask them to open the gates for police and medics to gain access.

“She was a friendly, beautiful child. She was always happy and often came to our house to play with our granddaughter,” Henning said.

The mom and her boyfriend had been dating for about seven years, she said.

A distraught Amor Hagemann, who gave the little girl a lift to school with her three children, said she was devastated.

She said she had received a WhatsApp message from the child’s mother the previous night, saying the girl would not be attending school.

“I didn’t really think much about the message other than that school had just reopened and [the child] looked perfectly healthy when we got home, so I didn’t understand why she wanted to keep her out of school,” Hagemann said.

“All she said was ‘[the daughter] isn’t going to school tomorrow, sleep well’.”

Lindsay Ziehl, of the Yokhuselo Haven for abused women and children, said what had happened was a tragedy.

“We don’t really know the back story – maybe the mother was suffering from mental illness or depression,” she said.

“A lot of times, people who are depressed or mentally ill are ashamed of talking about it, but there is a lot of help out there for them.”

Swart said a postmortem would be done this week. The Herald was unable to trace the woman’s boyfriend.

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