Despite a plea for clemency, the State has decided to prosecute a 33-year-old South African mother for allegedly murdering her newborn and then dumping her at a municipal landfill.
The baby’s body was discovered by chance last September by waste-pickers, who reported to police that the baby had head wounds.
Further investigation then allegedly placed the mother, Chirelda Lombard, from Hondeklip Bay, walking towards the dump carrying a backpack.
Although Lombard allegedly hid her pregnancy and initially denied it to police investigators, later DNA testing confirmed she was the biological mother of the dumped baby. That led to her arrest and further investigation at the home where Lombard was house-sitting with her 7-year-old son.
Police removed blood-stained linen and other blood evidence from the home’s blocked sewerage pipes, which allegedly strengthened the prosecution’s case. A till slip found in a Makro plastic bag containing the baby’s body also allegedly incriminated Lombard.
But she was not held for long and her release from custody after her first court appearance caused an uproar in the village.
“Chirelda Lombard is still not even arrested,” wrote one angry resident on Facebook. “She’s walking nicely around at her parent’s house, not even slept 1 night in a cell don’t understand so nice, how does it work....”
Scorned by villagers, Lombard cut a tragic figure in October last year carrying her baby’s white coffin to her graveside, marked by a neon pink plaque on a wooden cross that revealed her baby’s name was Gabrielle, born on August 30, 2018, died September 4, 2018.
The baby’s father was excluded from his child’s funeral. “He dated Chirelda for seven months,” said his attorney, Emdi Swanepoel, who requested that the father’s identity be withheld. “They broke up in January and she wanted nothing more to do with him and never responded to his text messages thereafter.
“So he was dumbstruck when he heard on the grapevine that Chirelda was pregnant and had not told him that she was expecting his child.
“And he was shocked and heartbroken when he heard that his baby was found dead on a rubbish dump. His biggest regret is that Chirelda never involved him.
“He is an upstanding guy and says that if she had, he would have offered to support his daughter or even raise her by himself. He hopes justice will prevail.”
In the months following Lombard’s release, her lawyer, Willie Bouwer, applied to have all charges dropped and was reported in local papers saying nothing would come of the matter.
He refused to elaborate on the substance of his clemency appeal, which was rejected by Northern Cape prosecutors.
“The Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision is that the accused should be prosecuted on two charges, murder and concealment of death,” said spokesperson Phaladi Shuping. “The case will be in the district court on 20 June, 2019, and on that day it will be transferred to the Springbok Regional Court where the trial will be heard.”
Shuping said prosecutors declined to elaborate on the matter of the clemency appeal.