A young Port Elizabeth mother and police are in a desperate search for her two-month-old baby who was snatched by an unknown woman who had befriended her at a Walmer Township clinic yesterday.
A visit to the Gqebera Clinic took a nightmarish turn for Phezisa Makuzeni, 22, of Walmer Township, when her infant daughter, Lizalise, was stolen by the stranger, who had offered to hold her baby while Makuzeni went in to see the doctor.
The woman had first approached Makuzeni, saying she had baby clothes and blankets she wanted to give away and asking if she could help her.
“The woman asked to hold the baby while I went in to see the doctor,” the distraught mom said.
“She asked if there were nappies as the baby needed a change, but I told her I did not have any.”
The young mother, who sat sobbing at the clinic after notifying the police, said the woman – who wore a denim skirt and black knitwear top – had offered to go and buy the nappies, but she asked her to wait until after she had seen the doctor.
“When I came out and asked the other mothers where the woman was, they told me she had left to go to the shops and I couldn’t believe my ears,” Makuzeni said, wiping away the tears.
The frantic mom alerted the other mothers and clinic staff and then rushed off to the nearby shops, asking if anyone had seen the woman and her daughter, but with no luck.
“I am scared for my baby. What if she is hungry and needs to breast-feed? She survives on breast milk,” Makuzeni said.
The clinic staff said they were all still in shock.
One staff member, Nozibele Mcunukelwa, said they had run to the waiting room after hearing a commotion and people shouting: “The baby was stolen!”
She said: “One of the mothers told us the woman walked in carrying vegetables and said she was looking for a mother who has a baby girl. “They referred her to Makuzeni. “We rushed out to the street and searched until we met a taxi driver who said he had just dropped her [the woman and baby] off at the taxi rank [off Govan Mbeki Avenue].”
The Walmer Township taxi driver, Sithembiso Rhaga, said he had picked the woman up in Yoyo Street at about 11.30am.
“I am actually surprised the woman is not the mother because of how casually she was walking to the taxi – and the baby was also asleep and didn’t make a sound the whole way to town,” Rhaga said.
Lizalise was wearing a yellow “onesie” and a white beanie with pink stripes. She was wrapped in a pink and brown baby blanket.
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said: “We have started searching for the baby, however the investigation will be headed by the family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit.”
Provincial health spokesman Siyanda Manana had not been aware of the incident.
“It is very bad and shocking,” Manana said.
“We will work with the police to try to find the baby.”