In a horrific incident, the mutilated body of a 15-month-old toddler was found in a forest in South Africa.

According to News24, the child had been reported missing since Friday. A murder investigation was launched after the local police found the baby's body with both eyes gorged out in Magagadolo in Zululand district in KwaZulu-Natal. Authorities said Tuesday the body was found on March 14.

"The child was last seen playing with other children. The mother only realized that the child was missing when she called the children into the house. The child's body was found in a forest adjacent to the family's homestead," Nonhlanhla Khoza, a member of the Executive Council of the Department Of Social Development, told News24.

Authorities said they are trying to find the exact cause of death and track the killer.

The incident took place just days after a 15-year-old boy was hacked to death in Uthukela, located in the same coastal South African province.

"It is alleged that on 10 March 2021 at 00:45, a 15-year-old boy was hacked with an unknown sharp object by [an] unknown suspect at Mathafeni farm. He sustained injuries to his body and was rushed to hospital where he died. The matter is still under investigation," police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said at the time.

Meanwhile, Khoza said the assailants responsible for the teenager's death tortured him.

"He was badly beaten and left for dead in the family homestead. His attackers came in the homestead, demanding to see his uncle. When they couldn't find him they resorted to dragging the boy out and assaulted him," Khoza said, adding that the incident was witnessed by the boy's grandmother, who collapsed at the time. She was later helped by neighbors who arrived at the homestead following the incident.

"We are a nation that has lost ubuntu. To kill children like this indicates that the challenge we face as a society is huge. It is hard to believe that people can just snatch a little child to be killed like that. These heartless people have no place in our society," News24 quoted Khoza as saying.

crime scene
Representative image Wikimedia Commons