South African Police Crack Down on Baby Tossing Ritual

It’s a bizarre ritual which left police officers puzzled. On a chilly and rainy Thursday morning, a group of women – among them the mother of a month-old baby – were rounded up by police in Braamfontein.

The police received a call at 5am from a neighbour who was concerned that the child was being abused.

The police say they found the four women performing some kind of ritual – tossing the baby in the air and throwing her from one pair of hands to the other. The women could not explain to the police what they were doing and they were all bundled into a waiting police van and taken to the Hillbrow police station.

Police spokesperson Captain Bhekizizwe Mavundla confirmed the incident and said the baby had been taken to a place of safety.

Mavundla said the police received a complaint in the morning that a child was being abused in Braamfontein.

The women were performing the ritual at the corner of De Beer and Stiemens streets.

He said the police found the four women, aged between 19 and 38, “throwing” the baby around.

“The women were exchanging the baby by throwing her at one another and tossing her in the air,” he said.

He said the other women were the baby’s aunts.

Mavundla said the baby girl was not well clothed during the ritual although it was cold and raining and she was exposed to the elements.

He said the women were arrested and would be charged with child abuse and public disturbance when they appear in the Hillbrow magistrate’s court today.

“The baby was taken to the Door of Hope, a children’s home in Berea,” he said.

When Sowetan arrived at the home the child was sleeping, wearing clean, dry clothes but her hands were still cold.

Mavundla said although the baby looked fine she would be taken to a doctor for a medical examination.

He said the police were still puzzled by the ritual.
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