Police in Ladysmith are searching for a teenage mother who two months ago reported that her baby boy had been stolen.
The police have found the baby, but they now believe the mother had abandoned the child.
In January the woman appealed to police to search for her five-month-old baby boy. Her heart-wrenching story encouraged concerned residents and officers to join the search.
At the time she told police she had left her baby with a stranger while she went to a toilet at a taxi rank. She told police she believed the woman had given her wrong directions to the toilet so she would have more time to vanish with the child.
Captain Charmaine Struwig said the child protection unit immediately instituted a search.
"Their search recently led them to the Newcastle taxi rank where they showed commuters a picture of the baby. Their search led them to a baby that had been found abandoned in a gutter but it was not the one they were looking for."
Struwig said the officers returned to the taxi rank where they interviewed informal traders.
"They found a trader who said that a young woman approached her for a place to feed her baby," Struwig said.
"And after feeding the child she claimed that he was asleep and that she needed to go to a shop."
Struwig said the teenage mother never returned to fetch her child.
"The child was taken to Newcastle Crisis Centre and was later placed in foster care.
"We are now searching for the child's mother, as she faces charges of child abandonment.
"Social workers concerned with the final placement of the child need to know whether to place the child with the woman's family or whether to have him remain in foster care."
Cookie Edwards of the KwaZulu-Natal Network against Violence said: "It's unusual for a mother to abandon her children and report them as missing or kidnapped.
"In this case the teenage mother might be facing a huge problem and she would need psychological counselling.
"In some cases women have been raped and want to have nothing to do with the child," she said.