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Baby snatched by trickster at clinic

"Please bring back my child, he's a very sick child ..."

This is a passionate plea made by the mother of a three-month-old baby who was abducted by an unknown woman at a clinic in the south of Johannesburg yesterday.

Neo Salemane, 28, described how she was tricked by the strange woman who later fled with her baby at the Stretford Community Health Centre in Orange Farm. Salemane had taken her child to the clinic for immunisation.

Speaking to Sowetan after the incident, Salemane said the child was stolen from her in the mother-baby section of the clinic.

"I arrived at the clinic at around 8am for immunisation. While I was in the queue with other mothers, an unknown woman came and joined us.

"We later set together and she sat next to me. She started a conversation with me and the lady who was next to me," Salemane explained.

"My child started crying, and this woman pretended to be concerned about my baby and offered to calm him down. "She comforted my baby for about 15 minutes until he fell asleep in her arms."

Salemane said another woman who was sitting next to her asked her (Salemane) to carry her baby since Salemane's child was with the strange woman.

"She asked me to carry her baby as she was going to collect her clinic card. I was left with this strange woman who seemed so caring about children. She even offered me tips on how to make babies sleep and told me that she was a mother herself. She said she had a seven-month-old baby.

"When the other woman came back she took her child and left. But soon thereafter, this other woman mysteriously disappeared with my baby and I don't know what swayed my focus. But what I knew was, she had vanished with my little baby."

Salemane said the baby was wearing a blue crawler and hat. "She took him without a blanket and feeding bottle. I'm praying that she brings back my child because he's very sick. Last week he experienced a breathing problem and we spent the night at the hospital. Please bring my baby back... I feel like a part of me is dying," she sobbed.

Provincial health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana told Sowetan the department and the MEC were aware of the incident.

"Our officials have spoken to the family and the matter is being investigated by the police," Kekana said.

Capt Tebogo Lephoto said police were investigation a case of a missing person.