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South African mother throws baby off burning building into strangers' arms

“All I could do was trust complete strangers,” she said.
/ Source: TODAY

Naledi Manyoni is proof that moms will take desperate measures to save their children.

On Tuesday, the 26-year-old South African mom was filmed by BBC cameraman Thuthuka Zondi throwing her daughter, Melokuhle, from a burning building amid ongoing riots in Durban.

Manyoni was on the sixteenth floor of the Durban apartment building when protestors raiding the ground floor set the complex on fire.

“All I could think was to make sure my baby lived,” Manyoni told BBC in an interview, adding that when she saw smoke rising, she knew they had to get out.

Because of the fire, elevators were not working, so Manyoni frantically carried her almost 2-year-old down the steps, but could not reach the ground floor.

She told the BBC that she managed to squeeze through to a balcony, where she pleaded to anyone on the street who could hear her for help, before throwing little Melokuhle to welcoming arms.

“All I could do was trust complete strangers,” Manyoni said.

Zondi, the cameraman and video producer who captured the harrowing moment, shared his thoughts on Twitter alongside a still of Melokuhle free-falling.

"Captured one those images that will forever live in my heart. Amongst the chaos there were heroes today, they caught her and she is fine," he wrote.

An update from BBC reported that Manyoni and Melokuhle are both safe and were reunited shortly after the video was captured.

The riots across South Africa are in response to the jailing of ex-President Jacob Zuma after he failed to appear at a corruption inquiry. Protests have been waged for nearly a week with violence and looting causing widespread unrest after decades of anger and hardship across the country.

At least 72 people have died across South Africa in connection with the protests.

"The path of violence, of looting and anarchy, leads only to more violence and devastation," President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday. “It leads to more poverty, more unemployment, and more loss of innocent life. This is not who we are as a people.”