Stolen baby back home

2017-12-29 13:45
Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese looks fondly at three-week-old Skhanyiso in the arms of his young mother, Bongeka Ngcobo. Skhanyiso was reunited with his mother on Thursday afternoon after he was snatched from Bongeka while she was walking in the Pietermaritzburg CBD almost two weeks ago.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese looks fondly at three-week-old Skhanyiso in the arms of his young mother, Bongeka Ngcobo. Skhanyiso was reunited with his mother on Thursday afternoon after he was snatched from Bongeka while she was walking in the Pietermaritzburg CBD almost two weeks ago. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - The newborn baby snatched from his young mother in the Pietermaritzburg CBD has been reunited with his mom after being missing for almost two weeks.

Bongeka Ngcobo (17) held her baby boy, Sikhanyiso Ngcobo, tightly on Thursday for the first time since he was stolen from her 10 days ago.

Bongeka, from Elandskop in KwaMafunze, had gone to Home Affairs to apply for a birth certificate.

While walking down Church Street, she was approached by a smartly dressed woman, who appeared to be in her late 30s, who asked her where she was going with the baby.

When Bongeka told the woman she was going to the Ematsheni taxi rank, she said she would walk with her. “As we continued walking down, she asked if she can hold the baby and I agreed.”

Bongeka said the woman told her she had heard from other people that if you are pregnant and you hold a newborn “you will not have difficulties with your birth”.

“We walked past a shop selling fried chips. She took out a R20 note and asked me to buy the fried chips for her as she was still holding the baby.

“I turned around to ask her something and she was gone. I ran down the street looking for her but she was nowhere to be found,” said Bongeka.

On Thursday, police made a breakthrough and tracked down little Skhanyiso to a house in Hammarsdale.

Bongeka and her family said they were “overjoyed” to be reunited with the three-week-old baby.

Speaking to The Witness on Thursday, she said she was relieved that her son was back home and thanked everyone who had played a role in reuniting her with her baby.

Her mother, Makhosazana Ngcobo, said the situation at home had been very difficult for the past 10 days.

“I can’t remember the last day I ate. I could not eat not knowing where the baby was,” she said. “Our Christmas was very bitter as we were constantly worried and praying that the baby is found well and alive.”

Ngcobo said Bongeka did not cope well with the abduction of her baby.

“One minute she was okay and the next she would be crying thinking about her baby,” she said.

Ngcobo said they were contacted by the investigating officer, Sergeant Zwelithini Nxele, on Wednesday afternoon telling them he had received information that Skhanyiso was in Hammarsdale.

Then on Thursday, Bongeka, her mother, Nxele and Constable Sanele Mchunu went to Hammarsdale in search of the baby.

“The police went into the house first to speak to the woman and when they called us in Bongeka identified the woman as the one who had stolen the baby and later identified the baby.

“The woman immediately apologised and said she had intended to eventually bring back the baby to us,” said Ngcobo.

She said although they were not entirely satisfied with the physical appearance of the baby, they were happy that the baby was well and healthy.

Bongeka’s older cousin, Nokulunga Shangase, said the family were grateful to everyone who had helped in bringing the baby back home.

“If it was not for the tireless efforts by the Loop Street police, the publicity we got from the media and the prayers from our church, we wouldn’t be celebrating today.

“It’s a joyful day that we will never forget. Thank you,” said Shangase.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said police had been on their toes ever since the incident.

He said it was the Pietermaritzburg branch commander, Colonel Ntando Mbatha, who established a team dedicated solely to finding the baby.

The two police officers assigned to the case, Nxele and Mchunu, worked around the clock, following various leads and information until they eventually tracked down the woman who had stolen Skhanyiso. “It is an indescribable feeling,” said Ngobese.

“Not only was the baby found, he was found alive and healthy. These days it is often a body we recover, but in this case, we are ecstatic that Skhanyiso is alive and well.

“Now I know the family can enjoy the rest of the festive season.”

Pietermaritzburg Cluster commander Major-General Phumelele Makoba expressed her gratitude to the police officers who worked to find Skhanyiso.

She and Ngobese also cautioned the public not to trust strangers with their children no matter how friendly or approachable they appeared to be.

The woman who stole the baby will be appearing in court on Friday on charges of child stealing.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  abductions  |  good news

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