Nelspruit - A 41-year-old woman has been jailed for 15 years by the Nelspruit Regional Court for kidnapping a child in Mozambique and smuggling him to South Africa.
Eliza Zefaro Gwambe, a Mozambican, was convicted after pleading guilty on Tuesday, a Sapa correspondent reported.
“After assessing your offence, and that you have pleaded guilty, I am sentencing you to 15 years' imprisonment with no fine and you have to serve 1/8the term 3/8 in South Africa before being deported to the country of your origin,” said magistrate Willie Wilkens.
Wilkens told the court Gwambe was heartless for stealing the child from his mother.
“You are a heartless woman for taking the baby without care; you caused extreme pain to his mother, because to this day he is not re-united with his mother.”
Wilkens thanked taxi passengers who notified police when they suspected that Gwambe, who was travelling to Johannesburg, had stolen the child.
“Thanks to the heavenly taxi driver and his passengers. Sentencing you would be a good example to all whistleblowers, as I would be giving you a suitable sentence,” he said.
Gwambe was arrested on December 29, 2011, when irate passengers in a taxi headed for Johannesburg became suspicious about a crying baby Gwambe claimed was her own.
They called police, who arrested her.
Later, police learned that there was another boy in Johannesburg who was believed to have been smuggled from Mozambique.
DNA tests had been done on Gwambe and the two boys, who were aged two months and four years at the time of her arrest, to determine whether they were her children.
Before passing the sentence, Wilkens said Gwambe was a childless, married traditional healer who earned R3000 a month.
“The offence you have committed is very serious. This kind of offence you have to get 20 years' imprisonment or R200,000 fine, but for you it's different because you trafficked the child with the hope to bring him up as you don't have the kids, not kill him,” said Wilkens.
“But you didn't show any remorse to the kid because you kidnapped him in Mozambique without bringing his food until the taxi driver Alex Bambisa and the passengers got annoyed and called the police to investigate you.
“I will give you a sentence that will make the community gasp and wonder. I will impose a sentence not only for you. but for others who want to commit similar crimes,” Wilkens said.
He said children had a right to play outside their homes without any fear of people like her.
He said two years ago the court did not have cases relating to human trafficking or smuggling.