WITBANK - The mother of the baby boy at the centre of a hoax kidnapping plot says she dreamt of him crying in the week that he was away.
In an exclusive interview with eNCA.com, Refilweo Maoko said she had experienced stress and anxiety throughout the time he was living with her aunt, and it was this that prompted her to demand his return. Her aunt, who cannot be named since she is yet to appear in court, is now accused of perjury and defeating the ends of justice after faking the child's kidnapping.
eNCA.com was able to track Maoko to her home in the Hlalanikhahle township outside Witbank where she lives with relatives. Although she was initially willing to give an on camera interview, she later refused after speaking to her aunt who owned the house. She also refused to be photographed from the front.
Maoko said she had known nothing of the elaborate kidnapping plot until police showed up at her door around midday on Tuesday. "She didn't tell me about any kidnapping. The police came to fetch me. I was shocked. I thought they came to take my child," the 20-year-old said. Police explained that they needed to clarify who the child's real mother was. Her aunt had allegedly tried to pass off the four-month-old baby boy as a newborn. "I showed them his birth certificate and clinic cards and told them I gave birth to him on June 3," she said.
Police then drove Maoko to Kempton Park where she heard of the hoax kidnapping. On Monday night officials launched a large scale search for the baby, and the woman's husband made a public plea for the baby to be returned. The woman had allegedly told police that thieves ransacked her home and she and another child were tied up by them.
It later turned out to be a fabrication to conceal the fact that the baby was not hers and had been returned to his biological mother. "In Kempton Park they told me that there was a robbery. I wasn't expecting that. I knew nothing about that," Maoko said. Asked how her son, Simangaliso, had come to live with her aunt, Maoko said the woman had suggested it. "My aunt phoned and offered to look after raise my child. I said I don't have a problem with that. When I wanted him back I could get him," she said.
Maoko said her aunt had collected the child on September 29. But she was unable to sleep in the days that followed. "I dreamt of him crying. I could hear him crying in my sleep." On Sunday she called her aunt and asked for Simangaliso's return. On Monday he was back home with her. "On that night I slept well. Before I had a lot of stress but now I feel fine." Before her interview with eNCA.com, Maoko had taken her son to the clinic for a routine checkup. "They weighed him and they say he is fine. I feel very happy now. I couldn't live without him."
Maoko's aunt is expected to appear in the Kempton Park magistrate court today for a bail application and to be formally charged.