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Johannesburg - Holding a packet of snuff in his hand, John Majila sprinkled some at the gate of his White City, Soweto, home on Wednesday, murmuring softly.
“We welcome you. You have been brought home by these men who are police officers. You have arrived home.”
Kneeling on the other side of the gate, with her head bowed, was his wife Alphina Dintso, who was holding their infant son Rorisang.
He was returned to his parents on Wednesday after he was allegedly kidnapped by a family friend on Thursday.
Majila performed the ritual as a way of telling the ancestors that his son was back home, as well as welcoming five-month-old Rorisang back to the family.
After completing the ritual, Dintso stepped into the yard with her son. She undressed Rorisang, saying she did not want the clothes he was wearing and that she was going to burn them.
When she later sat under the tree, gazing into her son’s eyes as he sucked his thumb, she kept apologising to him.
“I am sorry, Rorisang, I am sorry,” she said.
At the time of the disappearance, Dintso used to breastfeed Rorisang, but on Wednesday her milk had dried up.
As he looked at his son, Majila was overcome with emotion, crying as he gave the officers a hug.
“Thank you, thank you,” he said to them as he hugged them and shook their hands.
Meanwhile, Hilda Mokoena, a 73-year-old woman, has been arrested and charged with kidnapping.
Majila and Mokoena have been family friends for a long time, and she allegedly took Rorisang under a false pretext on Thursday.
She is alleged to have also taken her great-grandson, Lebogang Mokoena, and then switched off her two cellphones.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said Mokoena was arrested after she had called her grandson, asking him to meet her in town. The grandson is the father of the toddler she took with Rorisang.
“We don’t know whether she wanted to give him the child or what, but the grandson alerted the police, who then went there and arrested her,” Makhubela said.
It’s not known where Mokoena was, and the police are investigating.
While Rorisang’s family said they just want to see justice done, they also said they felt sorry for Mokoena.
They believe the brutal murder of her granddaughter could have left her disturbed.
The family said the 26-year-old granddaughter’s boyfriend had heard rumours she was cheating on him. He stormed home, where he found her with her grandmother.
He brutally stabbed her, hit her with the lid of a metal dustbin and beheaded her.
“She (grandmother) saw everything but could not do anything. And when she went outside to get help, she gave someone her phone to call the police,” a family member said.
“However, instead of calling the police, the person fled with her phone.”