A nationwide search for a one-month old baby has kept South Africans on their toes this past weekend. When on Friday a mother came to a police station in Durban and stated that her car had been hijacked outside a shopping centre with her baby still on the backseat, police immediately started a national manhunt.
About 100 police officers spent the entire weekend looking for the abducted infant called Siwaphiwe Mbambo. Media outlets all over the country covered the case and asked possible witnesses to come forward. After the child’s mother and her husband had made passionate public pleas the entire country got engaged in the case. On Twitter thousands of users showed their compassion, using the hashtag #HelpFindDurbanBaby. As the police kept on investigating the case more and more details that the mother provided just didn’t seem to add up. She told investigators that she had seen two people driving off in her car. When the missing car was found on Friday afternoon both the baby and its seat were missing. Further investigation finally led to police officers finding baby Siwaphiwe in its mother’s boyfriend’s car. The man was driving with the baby and another woman, who is believed to be another girlfriend of his.
”This was a false case and cost us money and resources that could have been deployed in other places.“, a frustrated deputy provincial commissioner stated on Monday. Local media believe that the baby simply spent the weekend at the mother’s boyfriend’s house. At the moment it seems to be completely unclear why Baby Siwaphiwe’s mother claimed her baby was abducted. The boyfriend, his alleged girlfriend and the baby’s mother were immediately taken into arrest. The 34-year old mother appeared before the court on Monday, but the case will not be dealt with before Wednesday. The judge gave orders to carry out a DNA test to figure out who Siwaphiwe’s father is. Right now the baby is in the care of social services and will hopefully be able to recover from its turbulent weekend.
Car hijackings have become a regularly occurring issue in South Africa. Last year the cases increased by 14.3 % compared to the year before. In this particular case, police officers were relieved to find the missing baby unharmed but the people of South Africa will be curious to find out more about the contradictions surrounding Baby Siwaphiwe’s abduction.