Baby Siwaphiwe's "kidnapping" was hatched to hide extra-marital affair
The faked abduction of baby Siwaphiwe Mbambo had been carefully hatched by her mother - with the “kidnapped” child to forever live in secret with the relatives of her lover had the plan not been uncovered.
This‚ the Durban Regional Court heard on Tuesday‚ was in an effort to hide Sibongile Mbambo's sordid extra-marital affair from her husband.
Details of the plot‚ which led police on a province-wide search for the baby in March last year‚ were laid before Magistrate Anand Maharaj as Mbambo’s attorney‚ Mfanafuthi Biyela‚ led evidence in mitigation of sentence.
Mbambo‚ 34‚ and her lover‚ Phumlani Mbokazi‚ 26‚ faced charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice after their web of lies was unravelled by police investigating the abduction of Siwaphiwe‚ supposedly taken during a hijacking gone awry at a shopping mall.
The woman had pled guilty‚ while Mbokazi’s trial has yet to commence.
On Tuesday‚ a probation officer and a social worker testified that Mbambo had detailed the extent of her plans and what had driven her to stage the child-snatching. Social worker Lydia Watson testified that during her consultation with Mbambo‚ she revealed that she’d met Mbokazi at a shop two months before she had fallen pregnant.
“She had fallen pregnant and during that time she was uncertain of who the father was because she had had relations with the biological father and her husband‚” she said.
After the child was born‚ Watson said that Mbokazi had sent her pictures of his other children to compare to Siwaphiwe.
“On seeing pictures of the other children this crystallised‚ in her mind‚ that he was the father.”
She feared that the physical appearance of the child would reveal that her husband was not the father.
“She was part of a polygamous relationship and she was much younger than her husband and she missed the affection [of other men]‚” Watson said‚ as a possible reason for her affair.
The baby was returned to the mother’s custody late last year‚ despite her having been convicted to fraud and defeating the ends of justice.
The Family Court had ordered that the child be returned to the natural mother after social workers had moved to have the baby transferred to the care of her maternal grandmother.
On Monday‚ her husband‚ Christopher‚ testified in mitigation of sentence for his wife. He revealed that he had doubts about the paternity of the baby before their scheme was hatched.
Trying to justify why his wife had mislead the media and staged a radio appeal for her child’s safe return‚ he said she was scared and confused.
Sentencing procedures continue on Wednesday.