KZN hospital staff help nab alleged baby snatcher

Staff at Hlabisa Hospital, northern KZN, have been applauded for their quick thinking, which resulted in the arrest of a woman who had allegedly stolen a four-day-old baby in Mtubatuba town centre earlier this week.

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane said it is alleged that on Tuesday a woman in her mid-20s approached the infant’s mother, and asked if she could make an urgent call from her cell phone. However, the phone had no airtime.

“The woman then gave the mother some money, and offered to hold her baby, while sending the mother to get airtime. The mother, who is in her early 20s, duly complied.”

However, upon the mother’s return, the woman and her baby were nowhere to be seen.

The panic-stricken mother then reported the matter to the police and also wrote about her baby theft ordeal on Facebook.

Later on the same day, Simelane said the alleged baby snatcher went to Hlabisa Hospital in a bid to have a hospital card made for the baby, under the pretence that she was the biological mother.

However, when nurses at the Out-Patients Department (OPD) and at maternity quizzed her about the baby and circumstances surrounding his birth, it soon became apparent that her story was incongruent.

She was asked to return to the facility where she had had the baby delivered.

“Hospital management subsequently checked with the SAPS and were able to ascertain that a case of a stolen baby had been registered.

“The next day the alleged baby thief re-emerged at Hlabisa Hospital once again.

“As staff pretended to assist her, while deliberately delaying the ‘administrative process’, they surreptitiously called the police, who arrived shortly thereafter, along with the baby’s real mother.”

According to the hospital report, Simelane said there was not a single sign that the woman had recently been pregnant or had given birth.

When the police arrived, the alleged baby thief was still wearing the same clothes as the day before, and the baby’s mother’s cellphone was also found in her possession.

She was then promptly arrested.

Simelane said the baby was taken in by the hospital and received medical attention. He is still in hospital and under observation for a particular minor ailment.

Simelane went on to urge mothers not to take chances with their babies.

Speaking on the Department’s popular weekly multimedia programme KwaZulu-Natal Health Chat on Friday, MEC Simelane said: “We would like to commend the nurses and doctors at Hlabisa Hospital for being proactive and alerting the police upon realising that there was something amiss about this situation. We really thank them for what they’ve done. We all need to be vigilant, so we can curb the scourge of baby thefts in our society. “

“I’d also like to particularly urge all mothers to look after their children. You can’t just give your baby to a stranger in town, and say, ‘Please hold my baby, I’m going into the store.’ A baby isn’t like a bag or object, and must be with you at all times as the mother.

“Whether you’re going into the store or to the loo, take your baby with you. Do not trust anyone, because there are many people out there who are looking for children. Some steal babies because they don’t have them; others sell them; while others murder them and sell their body parts.  So, we are really pleading with mothers to look after their children, so that we can get rid of this scourge.”

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