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Pretoria - The mother of a missing 18-month-old girl is willing to visit her boyfriend – arrested in connection with the child’s disappearance – in prison, to find out what happened to the toddler.
Ronewa Matshinyatsimbi went missing from her home early on New Year’s Eve while her mother’s partner and two other children slept in other rooms of the family’s home at the Dunnottar Military Base in Nigel.
The boyfriend alleged that a young woman – who claimed to be a nanny looking for work – took the brown-eyed toddler after having been allowed to sleep in the same room as Ronewa on the night when she arrived.
The man was supposed to care for Ronewa, her brother, 4, and his own son, 6, while his girlfriend, Neo, the girl’s mother, was working in war-torn Sudan.
On Wednesday, when Neo arrived back from North Sudan where she had begun a six-month deployment on December 14, the police arrested her boyfriend, 29. Police spokeswoman Colonel Katlego Mogale said investigators picked up discrepancies in initial statements the man made when a missing persons case was first reported.
He has been charged with kidnapping and perjury. The police are still looking for the child.
Ronewa’s uncle Tumi Nkoane said Neo was struggling to cope with her child’s disappearance and her lover’s arrest.
“She keeps saying that she wants her baby back. She still believes that Ronewa is alive. She is willing to go and speak to the boyfriend in jail to find out where her baby is.
“She is not doing well at the moment. When she came back she did not want anybody to touch her. She went straight to the child’s room, held her clothes and broke down. It was very hard for my family to see that.”
Nkoane said, while in Sudan, Neo communicated with her boyfriend about the missing child.
“It seems she did not understand how serious the matter was. It only sank in when she came back. God knows what he was telling her.
“She is gutted that someone she trusted would do this. She is shocked but focused on getting her baby back.”
The family had been concerned about the pair’s relationship, especially after he insisted on caring for the children while Neo was away.
“This young man was pulling my sister away from the family. When she went to Sudan the agreement was that the kids would be taken care of by their grandmother, as usual. But when we had to take them, he said he knew nothing of the arrangement.
“We agreed to let him keep the kids and sort the issue out when Neo came back from Sudan. We did not want to stress her while she was in a war situation. But now it is too late.”
Nkoane said the police had been a constant support for the family. “They have been a source of hope. They have been working hard on this case.”
The man is expected to appear in the Nigel Magistrates court on Friday.