‘I want my baby back’– Mother of baby kidnapped at mall

The mother of a seven-month-old baby who was allegedly kidnapped by an unidentified woman at a shopping centre in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, says she regrets giving her baby girl to a stranger.

Speaking to DRUM, 22-year-old Simphiwe Ndlamlenze says she’s had sleepless nights since her daughter, Luyanda, went missing on 3 August. 

“I keep thinking I should be feeding her now or bathing her but she’s not here. It’s not easy,” the unemployed mother says.

According to the police Luyanda was allegedly taken by an unidentified woman at Osizweni Shopping Centre earlier this month. Simphiwe, of Mndozo in Newcastle, was watching a preacher outside the shops when she was allegedly approached by a woman who asked to hold her baby. 

“It’s almost a month since my baby went missing. There are no leads. I really don’t know how I trusted that woman with my baby,” she says.

When asked if she was aware of child trafficking, Simphiwe says she didn’t realise it was something that happened in her area. “I didn’t know about it. I’ve heard about it on radio but it was always happening in far places – I didn’t think it would happen to me,” she says.

The worried mom says she blames herself for giving her baby to a stranger and regrets not paying enough attention to the woman who took her child.

“She didn’t look suspicious. She looked respectful and dignified. But I don’t remember her face because she wasn’t looking at me, her eyes were on the baby the whole time,” Simphiwe says. 

But she recalls the woman was wearing a white skirt and a leather jacket.

Simphiwe, who lives with her mother and siblings, says the woman came out of nowhere and started playing with Luyanda, who was dressed in a white jumpsuit, yellow T-shirt, pink pants and a red jacket. 

Simphiwe says she was carrying her baby in a front-facing carrier while watching a street preacher with her friend.

“I was [near] Boxer stores. I don’t know where this woman came from but she started playing with my baby. She suggested we sit down. After we sat down my friend left us to go to the shops,” recalls the mother. But then the woman allegedly sent Simphiwe to the shops to buy her a sandwich.  

“I asked her to give my baby back but she promised to look after her. I left her with the baby.” 

Minutes later she received an unsettling call from her friend asking her and the baby’s whereabouts. 

“I told her I was inside Boxer. She came inside and asked where the baby and the woman were. I told her they were outside where we had been sitting but my friend said there was no one there. We rushed outside. I didn’t even buy that sandwich.” 

But the woman and the baby were nowhere to be found. 

After an attempt to look for them failed Simphiwe opened a case at Osizweni Police Station. 
“Please help us find the baby. If we can find this woman and bring the baby back, I want her to explain why she took my baby. Why she moved from where I left her.” 

KZN Saps spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele tells DRUM the search for Luyanda is still ongoing. She urges everyone who might have information about the baby’s whereabouts or the suspect to contact Detective Constable TP Mthimkhulu on 082-696-7953 or Crime Stop on 08600-10111.