A mother in Durban, South Africa, threw her two-year-old daughter off of a high-rise tower Tuesday in an effort to save the toddler’s life after a fire broke out in the building, Reuters reported.
The girl was safely caught by a crowd of strangers standing directly below the tower, the baby’s mother, Naledi Manyoni, told Reuters on July 15.
A mother throws her baby after their home was set on fire by looters in Durban, South Africa. The baby landed safely on onlookers hands. pic.twitter.com/eeX2uwC18z
— Child of God (@ItsChildOfGod) July 14, 2021
This is the moment a desperate mother throws her baby from a burning building in Durban, South Africa. Riots triggered by the jailing of ex-President Jacob Zuma have spread to several parts of the country. The baby and mother were re-united and are safe.
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— The Intrepid Journalism (@Vegz05) July 15, 2021
Video footage of the incident circulating on social media shows Manyoni first jumping from one level of the building to a connected ledge below with her daughter still in her arms. Manyoni then walks to the edge of the ledge and drops her daughter into a crowd of people standing on the ground directly below. Manyoni’s daughter miraculously suffered no injuries during her forced escape from the burning tower.
Manyoni, 26, told Reuters she was on the building’s 16th floor when a fire broke out on July 13. The mother said she began running down a staircase inside the high-rise before realizing she would have to find an alternative exit from the tower for her young daughter.
“What was important was for my daughter to be out of that situation. … I couldn’t escape alone and leave her behind,” she explained.
“After throwing her, I held my head in shock, but they caught her,” Manyoni said of the crowd of bystanders.
“She kept saying, ‘Mama you threw me down there.’ She was scared,” the woman said of her child’s reaction to the incident.
Manyoni and her daughter were forced to flee the high-rise tower in Durban on Tuesday after looters allegedly set fire to shops located on the ground floor of the building.
“Those raiding ground-floor shops had started a fire in the building in which Ms Manyoni had been visiting her partner,” the BBC reported on July 14.
Manyoni and her partner “were staying on the 16th floor of the apartment block when they noticed smoke rising,” according to the British broadcaster. The tower’s elevator “was not working because of the fire, so Ms Manyoni frantically ran down the stairs with her baby.” Manyoni was unable to reach the building’s ground floor, however.
The 26-year-old “managed to squeeze through to a balcony area on the second floor where she appealed to passers-by for help,” according to the BBC.
“All I could do was trust complete strangers,” Manyoni told the broadcaster. “All I could think was to make sure my baby lived.”
Rampant looting and rioting have overtaken large sections of Durban, located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, since social unrest sparked last week over the jailing of ex-South African President Jacob Zuma. The disgraced politician began serving a 15-month prison sentence on July 8 on charges of contempt of court. The charges are connected to an investigation of alleged corruption during Zuma’s tenure as president from 2009 to 2018. Initial protests against the jailing quickly descended into lawlessness, which has spread to Gauteng province.
Gauteng is home to South Africa’s economic capital, Johannesburg, and political capital, Pretoria.