Police searching for father who allegedly poisoned 2-year-old daughter

Police have launched a manhunt for a 32-year-old man who allegedly poisoned his two-year-old daughter in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg. It’s believed he also consumed the poison. Family members say he was upset over their

JOHANNESBURG - Police have launched a manhunt for a 32-year-old man who allegedly poisoned his two-year-old daughter in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg. 

It is believed he also consumed the poison. Family members say he was upset over their impoverished state of living.  

Two-year-old Phiwokuhle and her father Russel Makhubela are said to have been very close. So when they briefly disappeared while the family was chopping wood - her mother did not think he would poison their child – and himself. 

His sister says he was tired of living in poverty. 

 “When the father returned with the child, he was carrying one piece of wood which he threw down. He then said there’s no point in cutting wood because the food we’re going to make with it will finish," says Makhubela's sister Nontokozo.

He allegedly responded angrily when Phiwokuhle's mother replied that they were trying to make ends meet.

"His response was that he is angry and tired of troubling his sister so he would rather die," she added.

READ: Police on high alert as Ennerdale residents threaten shutdown

Makhubela allegedly told the mother of his child that he had consumed poison and fed it to the child. He also told her to do the same, but she refused. She took the child and ran to his sister's house. However, by the time she got there, Phiwokuhle was already dead.

“I feel very hurt that he didn’t tell me or message me because I was there for him since he was young," says Makhbela.

"I’m trying to be strong but it hurts. What also hurts is that he can’t be found,” she says.  

Mental health experts say breadwinners often face burdens alone. 

“When we look at the gender roles that we’re still experiencing, men are often under extreme pressure to be sole breadwinners," says psychologist, Jessie-Anne Bird.

"When things like asking for help is seen as weaknesses or when vulnerable seen as a bad thing," she adds.

We end up with a combination of men who who, after they lose their ability to provide, find it extremely difficult to ask for help and support, says Bird.  

Police are still searching for the father. Makhubela was last seen wearing a blue shirt. It’s not known whether he is dead or alive.

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