BABY exhumed

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Mpumalanga police have exhumed the body of a baby that was stolen from its mother in the Barberton Hospital's maternity ward.

The baby boy was stolen last Wednesday.

The body was exhumed from a shallow grave in the garden where it was buried by an 18-year-old girl who had allegedly stolen the baby after posing as a doctor at the hospital.

It is not known what caused the the child's death but the teenager, who is in police custody, claims the baby started vomiting and died.

Locals claimed that the girl had given birth to her own child, who died two days before she sneaked into the maternity ward.

Though the police were reluctant to confirm details, Sowetan has learnt that the girl mentions in her statement to the police that she connived with one of the hospital's security guards to let her in.

She allegedly arrived in the maternity ward of the Barberton Hospital at about 2am and asked all the mothers who had recently given birth if the babies were giving them any trouble.

She left the ward but returned a while later and offered to smear Vaseline on a child when she found its mother about to put it in a cot.

The mother handed over the baby under the impression that the girl was a doctor and went to sleep.

When she woke up at 5am she discovered that the baby was missing.

Mpumalanga health spokesman Mpho Gabashane told Sowetan that it was initially suspected tat the girl had scaled the hospital fence to escape with the baby.

The gloves and a hat that she had been wearing were found next to the fence at about 8am.

Mpumalanga police spokesman Superintendent Abie Khoabane says members of the community had become suspicious and led them to the girl's home in Umjindi, Barberton.

"The girl said her own newborn baby had died two days earlier so she had decided to steal one to replace it.

"We exhumed the child's body in the girl's garden," Khoabane said.

The child died on Sunday.

"We still have to conduct a thorough investigations into the matter," Khoabane says.