A newborn baby girl stolen at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital was found in Diepkloof after police received a tip off that she was in one of the houses in the area, reports The Star. “The baby was found in the morning and police are now going to analyse the CCTV footage to see if the suspect on the footage is the one whom they found the baby with,” Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said.
A security guard at hospital allegedly let the woman who had just stolen the baby walk past without searching her while those that came before and after her were searched. The woman, in her 30s, is being sought by the police for stealing the baby during visiting hours, between 2pm and 3pm at the hospital on Thursday afternoon.
The report says according to the Gauteng Health Department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka, the hospital CCTV cameras show the woman roaming in and around antenatal clinic. Later, the cameras show her exiting the maternity area caring a baby in a purplish blanket. “What is suspicious is that CCTV cameras later show her walk past a security guard who just let her and the baby pass without searching her. This is despite the fact that the security guard had searched those that came before and after her.”
Matuka, who conceded that the baby was stolen due to lax security, said the security woman was question by the police but could not confirm if she was back at work.
According to the report, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said he was saddened by the incident. “I am disappointed with what is appearing to be the lapse in physical security and we will leave no stone unturned in seeking answers to this. The case has already been opened with the Diepkloof police station and the CCTV footage will be handed to them. I have also met with the mother and her family and counselling will be offered.”
The Democratic Alliance‘s Gauteng Shadow Health MEC, Jack Bloom said in the report that it was not clear how the woman gained access into the ward, and ending up leaving the hospital with the baby. Bloom added that investigations into this matter need to be initiated and hopefully would reveal if there was enough security at the maternity wards.
“This incident is hugely distressing and highlights the need to tighten up on security at all maternity wards as baby snatching has happened at the other hospitals as well,” Bloom said.
The mother of the lost and found baby girl has spoken out for the first time about her ordeal, reports The Times. Bikokuhle Hlatshwayo said she was happy that her baby was found safe and returned back to her, but shocked to discover that her child already had a price tag. “Police told me that my baby was sold for R2,500 and I cannot stop thinking, what if I never found her?” she said.
Police have not as yet responded to requests for comment on the mother’s assertion, the report says.
A 35-year-old who was arrested in connection with the abduction of the child is expected to appear at the Protea Magistrate’s Court, police spokesperson Col Lungelo Dlamini confirmed. According to the report, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said he had not been alerted to the alleged price tag attached to baby Mpumelelo, but applauded police for a swift arrest.
Hlatshwayo said she gave birth to baby Mpumelelo last Wednesday, but woke up to an empty baby cubicle less than 24 hours later. She said when she woke up, a patient next to her bed told her that a lady who claimed to be her mother-in-law came while she was heavily sedated. “I was heavily sedated following my caesarian section procedure and I was resting,” she recalled. Hlatshwayo said that after the news, she immediately left her bed and walked to the corridors to check for the woman who had taken the baby “to be seen by the family”.
“I was surprised not to find any family member outside. I then took my phone and checked with my real mother-in-law, but she said she was only on her way. I then panicked, and cried helplessly,” she said. Hlatshwayo said she asked the nurses and security personnel in the ward what they had seen, but they responded they did not know anything. An investigation was launched. “I was then called to view the hospital footage and I saw a woman I don’t know leave with my baby,” she said.
Hlatshwayo said what upset her after viewing the footage was seeing that the abductor walked right past a security guard who was glued to her cellphone screen. The hospital’s CCTV cameras had captured a woman entering the ward during visiting hours and leaving with the baby. This footage was given to police.
The report says while the family was excited about the baby’s safe return, they said they still had many unanswered questions and are considering legal action following the trauma they had endured.