PRETORIA – It is disappointing when people take advantage of their fellow South Africans’ trust and belief in humanity and false claims of crime must be condemned, acting National Police Commissioner Lt-Gen Khomotso Phahlane said on Sunday.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) supported by law enforcement officers and scores of concerned community members spent well over 24 hours searching for baby Siwaphiwe Mbambo who was reportedly snatched during a carjacking in Durban on Friday at midday, Phahlane’s spokeswoman Brigadier Sally de Beer said.

On Friday, the baby’s mother reported to police that her Toyota Yaris car had been hijacked with her one-month-old baby on the back seat when two men drove off in her car. The car was later found abandoned in Montclair with the baby and the nappy bag missing, she said.

“The police deployed all the resources necessary to conduct a search for the missing child, joined by law enforcement officers, community members, and organisations with an interest in finding the missing one-month-old baby. The search was intensified and further interviews were conducted with persons of interest.

“Too many inconsistencies emerged during the interviews, especially in terms of the initial reporting to the police of how the incident developed. Information generated from the interviews became critical in the setting up of a roadblock in Mariannhill [in Durban] in the early hours of this morning [Sunday].

“A car was stopped by the police wherein a man, a woman, and the baby in question [were] found with the baby unharmed. The baby has been placed under the care of social development [officials]. Three people, including the 34-year-old biological mother of the baby, another woman, and a man have been arrested and are in custody,” De Beer said.

Members of the SAPS and all role players involved were commended for ensuring the safe return of baby Siwaphiwe Mbombo and the arrest of the perpetrators of serious crimes of this nature. The SAPS invested a lot in this case, including members working overtime, the use of vehicles and aircraft, which impacted negatively on the availability of police resources in the fight against priority crimes.

The diversion of policing resources by people with selfish motives could not be tolerated at all. It was thus critical that in situations such as this, those involved were dealt with during the processing of their cases by the courts. A special prosecutor was appointed on Sunday morning to work with the SAPS on this case, De Beer said.

Phahlane said: “We, as the South African Police Service, are extremely grateful that this innocent baby has been rescued from a dubious situation, to say the least.

“We thank our members, all other law enforcement agencies and security companies who stepped up to assist, as well as the civic minded members of the public who joined forces to assist in the search. We are a wonderful, caring society and it is disappointing when people take advantage of their fellow South Africans’ trust and belief in humanity.

“False claims of crimes which have an entire nation and beyond in a state of sorrow and anxiety should be condemned,” Phahlane said. Those who had been arrested and were in custody would appear in court soon.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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