How kidnapped 'Baby B' was found

2015-07-16 05:43
(File: News24)

(File: News24)

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Johannesburg - When little “Baby B” was found in Johannesburg after being kidnapped in Stanger last week, it was the happy result of a massive joint operation that relied on a combination of sophisticated technology and good old fashioned detective work.

In a hunt that resembled an episode of NCIS, with police detectives, intelligence officers, a dog unit and the Johannesburg Metro police, Baby B was being driven back to Stanger on Wednesday afternoon with a relieved Stanger police Constable Christina Sobraylu.

Sobraylu, who says she is passionate about her job, told News24 that the trouble started when Baby B's mother was walking to a minibus taxi last week and started chatting to a woman walking in the same direction. The new friends exchanged cellphone numbers and later that week the infant's mother was invited to meet her new friend at JetMart to go shopping for clothes and a carrier for Baby B, who was just a few weeks old.

The friends also went to a beauty shop. But it was later at Shoprite Checkers in Stanger that things went awry.


It was originally reported that Baby B was snatched from a hospital, but Sobraylu said this was incorrect.

While mom was in the baby aisle at Shoprite Checkers looking at baby things, she lost sight of her new found friend who had been holding the baby boy for her.

The worried mom called her friend on her cellphone and was told that the two were waiting for her at the entrance to the supermarket.

“She went to the entrance and she was not there. When [the baby's] mother called the cell again, it went to voicemail,” said Sobraylu. The woman had disappeared, and her baby was gone.

Acting quickly after the police were called for help, Sobraylu, who works in the family violence and child protection unit, and her colleagues, went from shop to shop and watched their CCTV footage.

“I saw her on CCTV footage at three stores in Stanger,” said Sobraylu.

She used her bank card to buy something for the baby at JetMart.


They isolated the bank card that was used at JetMart but, according to the law, banks cannot just hand over an account holder's details. This has to be done through a special application.

Once they had their order on Friday, they were able to get the details they needed. They had a copy of her identity document and its photograph, which matched the woman on the CCTV camera and an address. This way they established that the woman was from Johannesburg.

They were also able to track her cellphone co-ordinates to see where she was going.

Sobraylu and her colleagues travelled up to Johannesburg from the East coast town and, along with crime intelligence, the canine unit and the Johannesburg Metro Police started putting together the final part of their plan to find Baby B.

Police went to the Soweto address that the woman had given the bank, but were told she had last lived there in 2013 and was living in the Johannesburg CBD with her husband.

The team kept on monitoring the activity on her bank account and her cellphone. And it paid off. Her husband deposited an amount of money into her bank account and through their order, the investigating team was able to get her husband's number, and where he worked as a security guard.

They called his employer to confirm that he worked there, and arrived at his place of work on Tuesday to speak to him.

He told police that his wife had been pregnant and had travelled to KwaZulu-Natal to have her baby.

With information on where she was likely to be, the team blockaded some streets in Johannesburg's CBD, and waited.

Finally they saw the woman, and Baby B was found.

Kidnapper 'not doing too well'

“National intelligence helped us block off roads, and traffic. They were really excellent,” said Sobraylu, who also paid tribute to the Metro Police and other officers involved.

But the anguish is not over yet.

When Baby B arrives back in KwaZulu-Natal he will be placed in a safe home by social services while his mother goes through the agonising wait for the results of mandatory DNA testing to confirm that he is her son.

Meanwhile, Sobraylu said the woman accused of the kidnapping was “not doing too well”. They were still piecing together the details of her own story.

On Tuesday JMPD spokesperson Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the woman was arrested at the corner of Klein and Plein streets in the Johannesburg CBD and would be taken to KwaZulu-Natal to be charged.

But, he said: “The baby is in a good condition and appears to be healthy and well looked after.”

Read more on:    durban  |  johannesburg  |  child abuse  |  abductions  |  crime  |  good news

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