Lesotho mum kills her Zimbabwean baby


    Mapaseka Justinah Shapung was arrested after the body of baby Themba Bevin was found in a house on George Stephenson Way, in North Shields, on New Year’s Day.

    Shapung, 30, appeared yesterday at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday to face a murder charge.

    The bespectacled mother, originally from South Africa, was led into the dock by two security guards.

    Wearing a grey sweatshirt and with her hair tied up, she spoke only to confirm her name, age and address.

    No plea was taken during the hearing which lasted around 20 minutes.

    Prosecutor Laurie Hind said: “This is an indictable-only matter. The Crown’s application is that it should be sent straight to Crown Court. We are dealing with one charge of murder.

    “The death occurred sometime between 10pm on December 31 and 1pm on New Year’s Day.”

    It was said that Shapung came to the UK in 2001 and started a relationship with Aggrippa Mpofu in 2005. Their baby was born in January 2009.

    Mr Mpofu was the one who made the grim discovery at the family home.

    He had been to a New Year’s Eve party and returned to find he could not get inside the house. He had to break a window to gain entry. 

    He then found Shapung and their baby son unconscious.

    Emergency services were called to the property and the baby was pronounced dead by an ambulance crew.

    His mum was taken to hospital. She was later charged with murder. These details were revealed for the first time at North Tyneside Magistrates.

    After Themba Bevin’s body was discovered, neighbours told of their shock.

    One resident said: “You don’t expect something like this to happen. We are all gobsmacked that it is a death of a tiny baby.”

    Several friends and well-wishers of the couple visited the house and left flowers outside. Police launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the boy’s death. The home was cordoned off and forensics officers searched the property.

    A post-mortem examination was carried out but failed to establish the cause of death. Further tests were then ordered.

    In court it was alleged that a high level of a morphine sulphate solution, called Oramorph, was found in the infant’s system, although further toxicology test reports were still being awaited.

    Shapung’s solicitor, Duncan Campbell, made no representations and did not make an application for bail.

    Magistrates sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court and adjourned for the next hearing to be held on January 22. Shapung was remanded in custody until that date. 

    Additional reporting by Newcastle Chronicle