The couple, who cannot be named to protect the interests of the infant, were granted bail of R1 000 each. Initial charges of hijacking and kidnap were also dropped while the State charged the pair with fraud and defeating the ends of justice.
The woman is the 1-month-old girl’s mother, and kept her head covered throughout the proceedings. Her alleged accomplice – believed to be her lover and the baby’s father – also covered his head in the dock.
“Both misrepresented the facts in regard to the hijacking and kidnapping. A lot of police resources were used and there was public outrage for a child who was not missing,” argued Vaneshree Moodley, the State advocate. She said the State did not oppose bail. However, she expressed concern for their safety as the case had garnered national and international press coverage.
The man’s attorney, Andile Dakela, read out his 26-year-old client’s affidavit before the packed court, saying he intended to plead not guilty. The accused has three children and no previous misdemeanours.
His co-accused is a 34-year- old teacher, who is married with four children. She is also the sole breadwinner at home and has no previous cases against her.
Last Friday, media reports surfaced after the woman claimed she was hijacked in Greyville and her infant daughter taken. Police, private security companies and residents joined in the search.
Almost three hours after the “hijacking”, the woman’s car was found and the infant was missing.
Early on Sunday, police intercepted a car at the Mariannhill toll plaza and found a woman, man and baby inside. Another woman was found with the two accused.
However, the State has not entered her details into the court roll.
At their first appearance on Monday, Dakela said they would need time to conduct a DNA test to determine the baby girl’s paternity.
Speaking outside court on Wednesday, he explained that due to the charge of kidnapping falling away, there was no longer a need for a DNA test.
The court decided that the matter of the baby’s future care should be decided in a family court. In the meantime, the little girl is “safe and well” at a children’s home.
Bail for the woman was paid for by her husband who escorted her out of court. The accused are due back in court in May.