Police Investigating Tragic Death of Disabled 12-Year-Old Kept in KZN Backyard
Police Investigating Tragic Death of Disabled 12-Year-Old Kept in KZN Backyard. Photo: iStockPhoto

The South African Police Service (SAPS) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is investigating the circumstances leading up to the death of a disabled 12-year-old who was buried without an autopsy or a death certificate.

Nondumiso Zondi, who had Cerebral Palsy, died on Saturday in Coffee Farm, KZN, and was immediately buried at his home on Sunday. The circumstances of his life were so sad that Deputy Minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, said: “After being told about Nondumiso, I could not sleep. I kept on praying and pleading with God that there would be no truth to this story.”

Bogopane-Zulu visited the family along with the SAPS on Thursday. She revealed that the disabled child had been bed-ridden for 12 years in the backyard of his family home.

She said that the family would allegedly leave Nondumiso on his own in a one-room shack with the TV playing on maximum volume. He was not attending school.

His father, Mdu Zondi (31), allegedly buried him in a shallow grave without reporting the death of his son to the relevant authorities, according to a whistle-blower who alerted Bogopane-Zulu about the child’s death.

On Thursday, Nondumiso’s body was exhumed by the KZN Search and Rescue, and sent to the Pinetown State mortuary.

The 12-year-old’s grandmother, who was collecting a grant on his behalf, had passed away in May this year, leaving his stepmother as his primary caregiver.

Nontuthuko Zondi (28), who is the child’s stepmother, confirmed that her stepson had died on Saturday after a short illness, said Bogopane-Zulu.

Due to the lack of funds, Zondi said Nondumiso’s father and three of his friends dug a grave for him and buried him on Sunday morning at 08:00, where family members and some neighbours had attended the funeral.

“This happens during Disability Right Awareness Month. Disabled children deserve a right to a dignified life – just like any other child,” said Bogopane-Zulu.

Referring to the latest quarterly crime statistics, she said that there were 243 children murdered between April and June 2022.

Disability Rights Awareness Month (DRAM) is an annual campaign that is held from 03 November to 03 December. This year’s campaign is held under the theme: “Empowering Persons with Disabilities through resourceful, sustainable and safe environment.” – SAnews.gov.za