‘Why would anyone want to deny me an opportunity to be a father?’ asks dad
The mother of the lost and found baby girl allegedly abducted from Soweto’s Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has spoken out for the first time about her ordeal.
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.
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 on Monday, police spokesperson Col Lungelo Dlamini confirmed.
The newly elected MEC of Health in Gauteng, 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. Masuku, who visited the hospital on Friday, confirmed an internal investigation had also been launched into the circumstances around the abduction.
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 grandmother of the child, Phindile Monareng, said she was shocked to receive a call asking about her first grandchild’s whereabouts.
Hlatswayo had given birth after eight months of pregnancy and the new gran was still en route to the Soweto hospital. “I had just bought clothes preparing to go and see my grandchild.
“I was shaking and immediately rushed to the hospital where I found Biko [the mother], miserable,” said Monareng.
In an attempt to find out what was happening, Monareng said she confronted staff members who confirmed an unknown woman had sneaked out of the hospital with the baby unnoticed.
The baby was found on Friday at a house in Diepkloof, less than 5km away from the hospital, and returned to her mother after DNA tests.
“When I found my baby, she was wearing new clothes and wrapped with a yellow blanket. I had only wrapped her with a receiving blanket,” Hlatshwayo said.
She said she immediately changed the clothes and intended to destroy them, as they brought bad memories.
When the baby was found by police, she was immediately taken back to the hospital along with the suspect.
“I was told the woman [alleged abductor] was by the corridors [of the hospital].
“I wanted to see her face and ask her why was she doing that to me, I wanted to ask her, why me, she could have taken any baby, but she decided to take mine,” she said.
The father of the baby, Thabang Morodi, 25, said he could not stop thinking about how he almost lost his firstborn.
“It’s my first child, I didn’t understand why anyone would want to deny me an opportunity to be a father before I could even meet my daughter,” he said.
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.