‘Snatcher’ granted bail

2014-06-13 00:00

THE woman charged with snatching baby Olwethu from his mother at the Department of Home Affairs was yesterday released on bail of R1 000, to the dismay of the baby’s parents.

Little Olwethu was at Home Affairs with his mother, Nonhlanhla Madlala, on April 14 when she went to register his birth.

Madlala and the baby’s father, Sphiwe Mphemba, said they were “not happy” that the alleged kidnapper, Nokulunga Patience Mzila (25), was freed on bail.

The state did not oppose Mzila’s release on bail after the investigating officer was given an opportunity to confirm the suitability of an alternative address given by Mzila where she will live while she is on bail.

“I am not at all happy because she does not deserve to be out on bail,” Mphemba said outside court later.

He and Madlala both told reporters that baby Olwethu seems to be none the worse for his kidnapping ordeal and is doing well.

However, Madlala indicated that she was concerned that a traditional ritual had been performed on the child while he was in Mzila’s care, and she did not know what had been done or what the purpose was.

She removed the baby’s warm hat and pointed to a slightly dark bald patch on the back of Olwethu’s head.

Through an interpreter she described another small mark on the back of his neck and on his stomach, which she believes to be the result of a traditional ceremony.

This is common practice in the Zulu culture and is not regarded as “something bad”, but every family has its own way of doing things, she explained.

Meanwhile, baby Olwethu seemed calm and happy, warmly wrapped in a blanket in his mother’s arms and happily sucking on a bottle of milk.

Mother and child were not allowed to sit inside the courtroom, but waited in the foyer outside for news of the outcome of the bail application.

In the accused’s dock Mzila herself showed no emotion. Her attorney, Phumlani Fakude, handed the magistrate, Ntsoaki Ndawonde, an affidavit in support of Mzila’s bail application, detailing her personal circumstances.

According to the document, she intends at this stage to plead not guilty to the kidnapping charge, and her attorney is currently in the process of discussing the possibility of arranging for Mzila to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Asked by the magistrate whether there was any likelihood of Mzila pleading guilty, Fakude said the defence wanted time to consider all aspects of the case before entering any plea.

He reiterated that at this time it was Mzila’s intention to plead not guilty.

Fakude said Mzila is to stay with her grandmother while awaiting trial.

At the time of the alleged incident she had been living with her boyfriend.

The case was adjourned to July 3 pending further investigations by the police.

Baby Olwethu’s disappearance made headlines after he was taken from his mother by a woman who allegedly offered to hold him while the mother was busy filling out forms to apply for a birth certificate at Home Affairs.

Some weeks after his disappearance, on June 3, he was returned to his parents in good health after Madlala spotted him in the arms of a woman at Edendale Mall and informed the police.

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