Toddler dumped on busy freeway

A 19-YEAR-OLD schoolgirl has been charged with attempted murder and abandonment after allegedly dumping her toddler on a busy Johannesburg highway.

Dressed in her grey school uniform, the Grade 12 pupil from Orange Farm appeared briefly in the Vereeniging Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

She was arrested on Friday after her 16-month-old son was found walking on the N1 freeway, near the Grasmere offramp at about 7pm on Thursday.

The mother, who will remain in police custody, requested legal aid and will return to court next Tuesday for a formal bail application. She cannot be named to protect the identity of her child.

Yesterday, state prosecutor Ernst Ntsoane told the court the state planned to oppose bail.

Gauteng Traffic Police spokesman Busaphi Nxumalo said the toddler was almost run over by a truck, but traffic officials patrolling the area rescued the child after they saw the truck swerving.

“It is suspected that the child was dropped on the freeway since there are no houses around,” Nxumalo said shortly afterwards.

The boy has been temporarily placed in a place of safety.

Gauteng Department of Social Development spokesman Sello Mokoena said the child would remain in the place of safety until the court had assessed the situation. Ideally the toddler should be placed with a family member, Mokoena said.

The boy’s tearful mother grabbed her mother’s hand after her brief court appearance, before being taken back into custody. Her 39-year-old mother, who has three other children, said the father of the baby had not been “in the picture” since March last year.

- Aarti J Narsee