A 35-year-old woman who allegedly abducted a newborn baby girl at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital claimed she was a relative of the infant and wanted to show her off to her uncles, according to preliminary investigations.
The newborn infant was abducted from the Soweto hospital on Thursday afternoon and traced by police to a house in Diepkloof on Friday morning.
Following a DNA test, she is now reunited with her mother, who remains in the hospital.
The woman entered the hospital during visiting hours and headed straight to the maternity ward, according to the newly elected MEC of health in Gauteng, Dr Bandile Masuku.
“She went into the ward during the visiting hours because everybody is allowed in and spoke to the patient lying next to the mother of the baby because the mother was fast asleep,” the MEC told a news conference.
“It was her first day post-caesar (caesarean). Usually post-caesar they normally get a lot sedation just to manage the pain,” he said of the new mother.
Masuku said the suspect started playing with the baby.
“She told the nurses that she was a grandmother or mother-in-law of the patient and she was taking the baby to see the uncles outside,” said Masuku.
Without explaining further, the department stated it could not rule out the possibility of the incident being an “inside job”. It vowed to hold an internal investigation following a “security lapse” in the CCTV footage.
Masuku said it was almost impossible to manage people during visiting hours, as the hospital had an average of 4,000 visitors a day.
Gauteng police confirmed the woman had been detained at a local police station and was being questioned to determine possible charges. Police spokesperson Col Lungelo Dlamini said the woman would appear before the Protea Magistrate’s Court soon.
Masuku described the alleged abduction as premeditated and well orchestrated.
Following the incident, Masuku said the department would strengthen its security systems across all Gauteng hospitals.