Tears, prayers, celebration when a child is reunited with his family

Tears, prayers, celebration when a child is reunited with his family

A baby boy, who went missing in November 2022, has been reunited with his family in an emotional meeting last weekend, thanks to the efforts of two hospital staff who tracked him down. biological mother. He does well with his family.

Leti Mavicela, 85, had been praying for her grandson’s safe return for seven months. She never left her home, not even to go to church. She knew there would be news of his return and she didn’t want to miss it.

Last weekend social workers reunited the baby with his family and Mavicela got the first turn to cuddle him.

Social worker Portia Marinana holds baby Oluthandu to be reunited with his family. (Photo: Deon Ferrera)

I repeated his first name, Oluthandu, over and over. “His name means I love you,” she said.

Then I pulled him up and thanked the Lord for his return.

“His name means I love you. Love brought him home,” she said.

The accused kidnapped in court

In November last year, the child was kidnapped from Kinko Mall, which is close to Dora Nginza Hospital in Nelson Mandela Bay. He was four days old. The woman accused of his kidnapping, Amahl Sigham, who was 19 years old at the time, was arrested and appeared in court on 30 June and 6 July. She will apply for bail on July 13.

The baby’s mother, Nonsedu Galli, said Segam befriended her with her sister, Nomathamsanka Galli, while Nonsedu was in the hospital after giving birth. Sigam returns to the hospital when Nuncedu walks out with Oluthandu, allegedly to return the fare for the R20 taxi she had borrowed from Mavicela.

Nonsedu said Segam went with her to Kinko Mall, about 1.2 kilometers from the hospital. When she had to rest she gave the baby to Sigham for a second so she could sit up.

But then Seagam, the child and a briefcase containing all his official documents disappeared, she said.

The breakthrough in the case was made by Portia Marinana, Social Worker in the Paediatrics Department at Dora Nginza Hospital.

Detective work

An elderly couple approached her to register their grandson. They told her that the child’s mother did not want to be involved. However, Marinana becomes suspicious when she sees that the baby and mother’s name were Tipp-Exeded on the baby’s Road to Health card and discharge summary. Through careful detective work, she and a senior administrative clerk at the hospital, Kaahmila Eagles, were able to track down the mother’s original patient file.

The kidnapped child is reunited with his family

Baby Olothando with his family and hospital staff Kaahmila Eagles and Portia Marinana, who have tracked down his family using hospital records. Oluthandu’s mother gave her permission to identify and photograph the child and his family. (Photo: Deon Ferrera)

“I slept really well last night,” said Nonsedo. “My heart is filled with joy.”

Nomathamsanqa added, “We are grateful to God for his protection and preservation.”

Baby Olothando received his new documents on July 3rd.

Later, Marinana finds out that the suspect, Sigam, pretended to be pregnant.

“We think she got away with it because she was a bit chubby,” Marinana said. Her boyfriend’s parents were convinced she was pregnant.

Baby Oluthando is one of the few kidnapping victims to be found and reunited with his family.

On May 4, 1994, baby Michaela Hunter was kidnapped from Marymount Maternity Home in Joburg when she was less than a day old. She is reunited with her family two years later when the boyfriend of the woman who kidnapped her turns her in to the police and says he fears the child will be kidnapped.

Zephany Nurse was kidnapped from Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1997. She was found 17 years later. Her kidnapper, Lavona Solomon, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for kidnapping a nurse as a child and renaming her name Michi.

Human trafficking risks

Trafficking expert Chantal Coetzee, who runs the NGO Shattering Shackles, explains that children, especially those in disadvantaged communities, are at great risk.

The NGO provides support for human trafficking investigations.

“We had a case where a mother wanted to send her son to a ‘rich uncle’ in KwaZulu-Natal. Red flags were raised everywhere for me. He never showed interest in her other children. He refused to give his address. This mother didn’t know where he lived. She just believed his promises.”

“People don’t realize how big it is. Babies are being sold or put up for illegal adoption, too.”

Coetzee says it is necessary to register children and obtain official documentation. It is also essential for parents to know that they can immediately report a missing child and do not have to wait 48 hours.

In an unrelated case, a farmer from Aberdeen in the Karoo appeared in court this week after being arrested on five counts of human trafficking, rape, assault, intimidation and child labour. .

Although the case of the Gally child may have been an isolated case and unrelated to trafficking, thousands of young and vulnerable children are increasingly at risk of human trafficking in South Africa.

In the past year, the Priority Crimes Investigation Directorate (FAWALK), a division of SAPS, initiated 29 trafficking investigations — 19 for sex trafficking, eight for labor trafficking, two for unspecified forms of trafficking — and continued 35 investigations from previous reporting periods.

This is nearly double the number of the previous year.

Trials of 30 accused in 15 cases began. Another 28 cases involving 74 suspects have been ongoing since last year.

Convictions were issued in 14 cases, and sentences ranged from 15 years to life imprisonment.

A recent report on human trafficking in South Africa from the US State Department notes that there is still no integrated system of data collection that can help combat human trafficking.

She says higher death rates from Covid-19 have led to more orphans, and more children vulnerable to exploitation. There have been reports of boys being lured out of the country with fake athletic scholarships and then forced into exploitation. DM


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