Chipinge mother relives baby kidnapping ordeal
“GIVING birth to a first child is one of the most painful experiences women go through in life. But the agony of losing that baby to a thief after experiencing such pain is unimaginable.”
These are the words of the 19-yearold Memory Mhlanga whose twoday-old baby was kidnapped by a woman who had posed as a “Good Samaritan” to her at Chipinge District Hospital last week.
Mhlanga, of Musabvunza Village under Chief Mutema, who had been in labour for nearly two weeks thought she had met a friend in Joyce Maputire (21), of Chimanimani.
Unbeknown to her, her new-found friend would soon turn into a foe, who was just after stealing her baby.
Mhlanga, who reunited with her baby two days later after police apprehended the culprit described how her baby was stolen.
“I lost my baby in a well-planned strategy by the kidnapper. We used to see such cases in African movies but now I can relate and I believe it can also happen to any one of us.
“I met Maputire the day I was admitted in the maternity ward. She told me that she was expecting her own baby and we became friends. I gave birth on February 28 and the nurses told me that I would be detained further for them to monitor me since I had given birth through caesarean section,” she said.
She said the nurses also advised her that her baby had to wait for a surgical operation to remove some of the extra fingers that she was born with.
Mhlanga said Maputire was “Godsent” during this time as she would bring her supplies.
“On several times she visited my room bringing me toiletries and food to eat. She used to come during the visiting hour and most of my relatives met her and accepted her assistance.
“I shared every bit of information that I was told by the nurses since she offered to assist with anything needed at hospital. I never suspected that she would one day disappear with my baby,” said Mhlanga.
“Then on the day we were supposed to go for the surgery, Joyce was there explaining how the baby’s extra fingers would be removed. She told my mother-in-law and other relatives to stay behind as there was no need for many people to accompany us to the theatre.”
Upon arrival at the theatre, the distraught mother said Joyce told her to go back to the ward to collect some documents needed by the doctors not knowing that it was the beginning of a trying time for her and her family.
“I was surprised to find no one when I got back. I later asked some people in the outpatient section where one woman told me that she had seen Joyce boarding a Honda fit that was parked and it drove off. That is when I raised alarm and we reported the matter to police,” she said.
As luck would have it, there was one person at the hospital who knew the kidnapper and assisted police with details that led to her capture. Mhlanga’s mother-in-law Elsie Mutama, still cannot believe that the family would be reunited with the baby.
“After receiving the bad news that my son’s baby had been stolen, we visited three faith healers and all of them told us that blood had already been spilled.
“We were relieved when we received a call from the police who told us that the baby was in Chimanimani,” she said.
On arrival in Chimanimani, Joyce was interrogated and she confessed everything. She surrendered the baby, who had already been christened Joseph, after Joyce’s fatherin-law.
“We have since renamed him Daniel, because like the biblical Daniel, he escaped from the lion’s den,” said Gogo Mutama.
She said police found the baby’s health card and a stamped birth record from the hospital among Joyce’s belongings.
Apparently, she had been feeding little Daniel with a baby formula as she could not breastfeed.
“When she was interrogated, she revealed that she had hatched the plan to steal a baby with a local prophet whom she had visited,” said Gogo Mutama.
Joyce has since appeared before Chipinge magistrate Mr Poterai Gwezhira and was sentenced to four years in prison, of which 12 months were suspended on good behaviour.
Mhlanga (right) with her mother-in-law gogo Mutama holding the baby. — Picture by Luthando Mapepa