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Woman tries to steal newborn smuggled in bag

MPUMALANGA – A 19-year-old woman who arrived at Tonga Hospital in Nkomazi, pretending to be in labour was caught in the early hours of Saturday morning trying to leave with a newborn.

The young woman, who was apprehended by security guards, was arrested on suspicion of having snatched a newborn from the hospital and the case is currently under investigation.

The woman was stopped as she tried to leave the hospital at 2 am carrying a large bag. It is not known how she managed to get hold of a newborn baby in a ward with staff present and on duty.

Lucia Mthombeni, who had given birth at the hospital, said she was devastated to hear of the kidnapping attempt and while she was glad that no baby had actually been taken, it made her fearful for the safety of her child. 

We knew something was seriously wrong and that’s when we asked to search her bag. At first, she hesitated but then she agreed and that’s when we uncovered the newborn baby inside the bag, sleeping peacefully.

Strange behaviour

A security guard who asked not to be named said he had spotted the woman behaving strangely, and grew suspicious when he saw her trying to walk out of the hospital in the middle of the night.

“She looked suspicious – even her walk. We knew something was seriously wrong and that’s when we asked to search her bag. At first, she hesitated but then she agreed and that’s when we uncovered the newborn baby inside the bag, sleeping peacefully. We asked her who the baby belonged to and asked her to show proof of discharge and the baby’s birth card if it was her child. She just looked at us and said ‘What baby?’ so we had no choice but to call the police,” said the security guard.

MEC for Health in Mpumalanga, Gillion Mashego, commended the security guards and nursing staff for their swift action and for stopping the attempted baby snatching.

Police arrested the woman and have opened a case which is currently under investigation. Tonga SAPS have yet to give an official comment on the matter and have not yet stated what charges the woman is facing. The name of the accused is known to Health-e News.

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