Giant rats as big as cats have killed and eaten two babies in separate attacks in South Africa’s squalid townships this week.
Lunathi Dwadwa, three, was killed as she slept in her parent’s shack in the Khayelitsha slum outside Cape Town and another girl was killed in Soweto township near Johannesburg the same day.
Little Lunathi was sleeping on a makeshift bed on the floor of her family’s breeze block and corrugated iron home on Sunday night when she died. Her puzzled parents didn’t even hear her scream.
When her mother discovered her lifeless body, she saw that her daughter’s eyes had been gouged out.
Bukiswa Dwadwa, 27, said: ‘I can’t forget how ugly my child looked after her eyes were ripped out.
‘She was eaten from her eyebrows to her cheeks, her other eye was hanging by a piece of flesh.’
Her father Mncedisi Mokoena said police told him: ‘Nothing could have done that but rats’
And today police revealed that a baby girl died in the Soweto township when she was attacked by rats while her teenage mother was out with friends.
‘We were called to the scene of the death of an infant due to a rat attack on Monday morning at around 9am,’ said police officer Bongani Mhlongo.
‘The mother of the child was arrested on charges of culpable homicide and negligence.’
Residents of South Africa’s impoverished townships say the giant rats grow up to three-foot long, including their tails, and have front teeth over an inch long.
The suspects in the baby attacks are believed to be African Giant Pouched Rats, a species only distantly related to UK rats, but native to sub-Saharan Africa – and the biggest in the world.
They are nocturnal, omnivorous and can produce up to 50 young a year. Some tribal people breed them for food.
They thrive in the townships’ filthy conditions and feast on residents’ uncollected rubbish.
My god. In the big picture I blame human overpopulation. Stop breeding. There are too many of us. No one should have to live in these conditions.