Anger in Langa after woman accused of scalding toddler gets bail

The case was postponed

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The family of a Langa toddler say they are shocked that the woman accused of throwing boiling water at 4-year-old Unako was granted bail by the High Court without their knowledge. Archive photo: Sandiso Phaliso

The trial of a Langa woman accused of pouring boiling water onto the body of a toddler earlier this year is expected to start next month.

The 22-year-old woman, whose identity will be published once she has pleaded in court, made a brief appearance at the Bishop Lavis Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. The case was postponed to 25 October when the matter is to be transferred to the Regional Court for trial.

On 24 June, four-year-old Unako Khala sustained severe burn wounds on his chest, arm and ribs. Neighbours say he was swinging on a gate when the woman threw boiling water at him. The woman had been charged with assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, but now faces a charge of attempted murder.

The incident sparked outrage and led to about 1,000 people marching to the Langa police station on 6 July. On that day magistrate Sean Lea denied the accused bail, stating that she had not shown remorse and that her life could be at risk should she be released back into the community.

The accused woman said she had tripped while carrying boiling water in a kettle and had not purposely scalded Unako.

During the hearing on Wednesday the court was notified that the accused had successfully appealed against Lea’s ruling at the Western Cape High Court on 11 August. She had been granted bail of R3,000 on condition that she not return to her home in Langa and not interfere with the state’s witnesses. She faces a charge of attempted murder.

Outside court, the toddler’s family and community members gathered to support his parents. Unako’s aunt, Yonela Mnyombolo, told GroundUp that the family was “sad and disappointed” that the accused had been granted bail.

“The investigating officer should have informed us that she appealed the decision. We don’t live far from the (Langa) police station. We feel the police failed us,” she said.

Community leader Mbulelo Dwane said more than 100 people had gathered at the woman’s house to voice their anger at the bail decision.

Langa resident Nokuthula Miko, who was among those supporting Unako’s family at court, said the community believed “the justice system is failing the child”.

“We were shocked to see her outside this morning. We did not understand until it was explained that she appealed,” said Miko.

The accused’s previous lawyer Fuzile Shumi told GroundUp that the accused’s life had been significantly affected following the incident. She is no longer a student and the call centre where she worked part-time terminated her contract.

TOPICS:  Court Crime

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