Durban - A young mother from Empangeni has been crying herself to sleep since her 3-day-old baby was abducted by a woman who had promised her a job.
Celiwe Qwabe, 19, is appealing to the woman, whose name is known to the Daily News, to bring back her baby boy.
“I think of my baby all the time; it becomes worse in the evenings, a time when children are likely to be sensitive in many ways and cry a lot. Since she did not carry him for nine months, what does she do to him when he cries? I blame myself for being too trusting,” Qwabe said.
Her ordeal started when a relative told her about a “social worker” who wanted to offer her a job as a domestic worker.
Qwabe had been eight months pregnant at the time.
The relative told her the “social worker” was willing to help her because she was unemployed. “He told me that I needed the job to raise the child. I told him to discuss this with my mother and because I was about to go into labour, I was in no position to work.
“A day before going into labour I received a call from a lady who goes to my church. She also told me about the job opportunity and I referred her to my mother who was against the idea,” she said.
On May 16 she gave birth and remained in hospital until the 18th. On that day she said she sent a call-back message to the relative and when he called back, she asked him to go and tell her mother that she was being discharged.
“Instead, the relative contacted the lady from church who arrived at the hospital accompanied by the prospective employer and another woman.
“They tried to talk me into accepting the job, but I demanded to be taken home so that I could rest and leave them to discuss the offer with my mother. When we got home my mother said I was not ready to work so they left,” she said.
A day later the suspect called asking if Qwabe and the baby were fine, and offered to take them to Home Affairs to get a birth certificate.
“I didn’t suspect foul play because these people were introduced by the close relative so I accepted the help. When we got to town the women bought me a dress and a T-shirt and a romper for my baby.”
She said the potential employer then offered to buy the group lunch.
“When we got there she started changing my baby into the new romper and took photos with her phone. I suspect that she was sending the pictures to someone,” Qwabe said.
Later the would-be employer took the baby to the car and arranged another car to take Qwabe and the other two women home.
The “social worker” explained to the young mother that these arrangements were necessary because she was still recovering from her Caesarean delivery so should not be holding her child.
That was the last time Qwabe saw her baby.
Police in Empangeni said the suspected baby thief had probably lied to her fiancé that she was pregnant.
They said the close relative and the women took advantage of the young girl’s poverty. “The good thing is that she reported the matter to the police. The close relative was taken in for questioning, but denied any wrongdoing. He is still under police investigation,” said one officer.
Two of the three women had since been arrested and released on R1 000 bail each by the Mthunzini Magistrate’s Court.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, confirmed that the “social worker” had pretended to help Qwabe to get a job and birth certificate for her child. He said police were investigating a kidnapping.
Police believe Zamokuhle “Madlamini” Bekezela could help them with their enquiries and have appealed to anyone with information of her whereabouts to contact Detective Constable Nongcebo Shandu at 072 840 3520 or Detective Lieutenant-Colonel Makhosi Ncube at 082 557 0465 or 035 901 9600.