Who will care for baby Siwaphiwe?

2017-03-21 06:02
Baby Siwaphiwe Mbambo was found unharmed during the early hours of yesterday morning after a vehicle was intercepted at the Mariannhill Toll Plaza. She is being held by a member of the Metro police.PHOTO: EMERGENCY CONTROL SA

Baby Siwaphiwe Mbambo was found unharmed during the early hours of yesterday morning after a vehicle was intercepted at the Mariannhill Toll Plaza. She is being held by a member of the Metro police.PHOTO: EMERGENCY CONTROL SA

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WHILE the country rejoices at news that baby Siwaphiwe Mbambo has been found safe and well, who will care for the child while her mother is in custody remains unknown.

After the arrest of the one-month-old’s mother, baby Siwaphiwe has been placed under the care of the Social Development Department.

“The baby will stay in the care of Social Development for as long as it is necessary to ensure that she gets handed over to an appropriate family member,” Brigadier Sally de Beer told The Witness (Fever’s sister paper).

Dr Lubna Nadvi, a member of the Advice Desk for the Abused, told The Witness: “Given that the primary caregiver [the mother] is allegedly complicit in the crime, it is in the best interest of the baby that the facts are established and the authorities take a closer look at the entire family, before releasing the child into someone’s care.”

Siwaphiwe’s father, Felokwakhe Mbambo, is “relieved and elated” that his daughter has been found.

In an interview with East Coast Radio, he said: “I’m so excited that I cannot even explain it. I would really like to thank the police, the media and radio for getting the word out on our behalf. This helped because I believe the suspects eventually felt that they had nowhere to hide.”

Siwaphiwe — who brought South Africans together in a nationwide search after reportedly being kidnapped during a hijacking on Friday — was found unharmed in a vehicle at a roadblock at Mariannhill toll plaza at around 1 am yesterday.

On Friday, the baby’s mother told police that her car had been hijacked with her one-month-old baby still strapped in her car seat. The car was later found abandoned in Montclair with the baby and all her belongings missing.

On Saturday, police offered a R250 000 reward to anyone with information that would help find baby Siwaphiwe and her captors.

A statement from the office of the acting national commissioner of the SAPS yesterday said that “too many inconsistencies emerged” and “information generated from the interviews became critical in the setting up of a roadblock in Mariannhill in the early hours of [yesterday] morning.”

Baby Siwaphiwe was found in one of the cars stopped by the police, together with a man and woman.

“The police intercepted that particular vehicle after obtaining information during interviews with some of those involved,” De Beer said.

Three people — including the biological mother of the baby, another woman and a man — have been arrested and are in custody. “We have not yet established when the accused will appear in court,” said De Beer.

She said the police invested a lot of resources in this case — members worked overtime, vehicles and aircraft were used, which impacted on the availability of police resources to fight other crimes.

“The diversion of policing resources by people with selfish motives cannot be tolerated at all,” the statement said.

Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, acting national commissioner of the SAPS, thanked everyone involved in the search.

“We are extremely grateful that this innocent baby has been rescued from a dubious situation.”

South Africans played a big role in the search as many communities got together to create awareness and provide support through social media and various organisations.

Facebook pages were created to spread the word and the hashtags “#babySiwaphiwe” and “#HelpFindDurbanBaby” trended on various platforms.

The news of Siwaphiwe’s mother being involved in the ordeal sparked outrage from the community.

Witness reader Andile Dlomo posted on the Witness Facebook page: “What a waste of tears, prayers, data, and police resources!”

Phahlane said: “It is disappointing when people take advantage of their fellow South Africans’ trust and belief in humanity.”

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