[monkeywire] Baboon eats baby in front of mom

Dave Smith daves at statenet.com
Mon Jun 9 13:59:56 EDT 2003


Baboon eats baby in front of mom

A YOUNG mother this week watched helplessly as a baboon snatched and
ripped open the skull of her only child and ate his brain.

The mother of the dead child, Lettie Goitsimang Tukane (34), told City
Press the baboon sank its powerful canines into the skull of her
three-month-old son, removed the brain, climbed up a high telephone
pole and ate the brain before fleeing into nearby bush.

The bizarre and tragic incident occurred at a cattle post in the
remote North West village of Madipelesa outside Pampierstad, where
Tukane and fianci Oupa Goeiman live. 

Tukane said her son Neo was sleeping in a bed in one of the rooms
while she was busy washing dishes in another room when she heard his

She said when she rushed outside she saw a huge baboon carrying Neo
under one of its arms. She tried to scare it off, but the baboon was
aggressive and it wanted to attack her too. 

"It happened so quickly that by the time neighbours came and threw
stones and set dogs on it, it had already eaten the brain and scuttled
into the bush. I could not believe my eyes when I picked up Neo. 

"He was still breathing and his skull was opened and he was bleeding
profusely," said Tukane. 

She said Neo was her only child and she hoped he would live because
her other children died of natural causes before they reached one

She said after the funeral they would contact a sangoma to check if
the incident was not witchcraft related. 

The incident, the first of its kind in the area, has shocked people in
the North West, especially in the areas of Seoding, Sekhing,
Madipelesa and Pampierstad. 

Petrus Malgas, who tried to help rescue little Neo, told City Press
that when he and other neighbours threw stones at the baboon, it
climbed up the telephone pole and nonchalantly devoured the child's
brain before it fled into the bush. 

Saomeng Phalatse of Sekhing said the whole episode boiled down to
witchcraft, because it was unheard of that a baboon would eat a human

"Although some people with western beliefs do not believe it, we know
for a fact that African chemistry works in these areas. 

"A few years ago in Taung an inyanga, through her medicines, caused a
young man to find himself with his bed and all on the top of his roof. 

"The incident was even shown on Bop TV. Why should we not believe
Tukane was bewitched?" said Gomotseng Badirwang, clutching her
two-month-old baby. 

North West senior environmental officer Richard Gasealahwe said chacma
baboons were prevalent in the area, including at the Blue Pool
heritage site near Buxton in Taung. 

Gasealahwe dismissed suggestions of witchcraft, saying the baboon
might have thought the child was one of the small goats which Goeiman
kept in one of the rooms at the cattle post. 

"The area is teeming with chacma baboons, which are normally tame.
However, when they are very hungry they become aggressive and they eat
small goats, starting with the brain. 

"They also rip off and eat the goats' udders and would also go to
residential areas looking for food," Gasealahwe. 

William Mekgwe of Nature Conservation said the baboon that killed
little Neo was an old male, "Rotwe", which had been rejected by the

He said they had arranged with their problem animal control unit to
trap the baboon because it would go back to the house again, hoping to
get small goats.

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