A case of murder is being investigated after a baby who was left alone for the night in a shack was found dead and mutilated by rats, Gauteng police said on Monday.
"We have registered a case of murder, but initially it was an inquest," Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng said.
On Sunday morning, Diepsloot residents raised the alarm after finding the baby dead in a shack. Police arrived to find the body with a foot missing.
"Further investigations informed police that [the foot] was bitten off by rats," said Mofokeng.
Police were still awaiting the results of the postmortem to definitively determine the cause of death.
Mofokeng said the baby's mother was missing and had still not been located by Monday morning, contrary to media reports that she had reported the matter to police.
He said the murder investigation would look into how the baby came to be left alone in the shack.
In September, a case of child neglect was registered against the baby's mother, which resulted in her two children being placed in the care of their grandmother, he said.
The mother had picked up only the seven-month-old boy from the grandmother on Saturday.
Diepsloot has been rocked by a spate of recent child killings. In October, two toddler girls aged two and three were discovered in public toilets after being raped and murdered.
Hundreds of outraged residents took to the streets to protest, including mothers with children strapped to their backs who marched on a makeshift police station. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa at the time pledged to step up the fight against those responsible for violence against children.
Charges against four of the five men accused of the toddler killings were dropped.
The previous month, a five-year-old girl was found murdered near her home in Diepsloot after it was believed she was raped. – Sapa