Stolen baby  reunited with family

Stolen baby reunited with family

MASERU-She was stolen when she was barely six weeks old only to be spirited away by a stranger to faraway Welkom in South Africa.
For the next seven months, her mother, ’Makarabo Molebatsi, searched all over Lesotho without success.
The agony was intense.

The prayers for divine intervention were also intense and relentless.
Days soon turned into weeks, and weeks into months.
But there were no answers.
On Monday, however, ’Makarabo was summoned by the authorities at the Maseru Bridge to receive her daughter, now eight months old.

For ’Makarabo receiving back her daughter was like a modern-day miracle.
That was why she perhaps appeared overcome with emotion and could only shed tears of joy.
Flanked by government ministers, security officials and journalists, ’Makarabo wept like a baby, overcome with raw emotions.

Sometime in February, ’Makarabo was at a clinic in Teya-Teyaneng when a stranger befriended her. When her baby was crying the stranger volunteered to help play with the baby.
It was however not clear how the woman managed to steal the baby and disappear from the clinic.

That was the last time ’Makarabo saw her baby.
The Lesotho police, working hand-in-hand with their counterparts in South Africa, began a massive search for the baby.
“Oh, my baby!” was the only statement ’Makarabo could make before she broke into a hysterical, piercing cry.

Free State Premier Mamiki Qabathe then handed over the baby to ’Makarabo.
Walking alongside her was her husband, Moeketsi Molebatsi, who took the baby carriage from Qabathe, carefully removing the blanket that covered the baby.

Molebatsi’s face was expressionless.
He only said: “It’s my child.”
The baby, crying and only keeping quiet when given a bottle of milk, was embraced and once again was finally on her mother’s bosom – the mother who could not stop tears of joy from rolling down her cheeks.
The event was emotional.

Given a chance to talk, Molebatsi could not say much except thanking the governments of Lesotho and South Africa for helping bring back his daughter.
“I don’t know what to say. I am really thankful,” he said.
The Interpol traced the baby to Welkom, a mining town in Free State, where her kidnapper had turned her into her own.

The kidnapper has since been arrested and at the time of print she was said to be in police custody in South Africa.
It is expected that she will be extradited to Lesotho to stand trial.
Qabathe said the two governments worked together “in ensuring that the child is brought back to her parents safe and sound”.

“We end Women’s Month on a high note, with a happy ending where parents are being reunited with their child,” Qabathe said.
“This occurs during a time our government is working on means to deal with gender-based violence, which continues to manifest itself in our communities,” she said.

Lesotho’s Social Development Minister Doti, said she will make a proposal to Foreign Affairs Minister ’Matšepo Ramakoae to deploy social workers in Lesotho’s consulates across South Africa, to enable the system to fast track similar cases in collaboration with the South African government.

Doti said the family will receive counselling, while the child will be assisted to obtain the necessary trauma support and care.

Staff Reporter

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