A woman has been sentenced to 12 years behind bars for kidnapping the one-week-old baby of a 16-year-old girl in July 2011.

The 34 year old, who pleaded guilty, said she stole the baby boy because “she loved children” and did not have any of her own. She also said it was her intention to keep the baby permanently.

She said she went to the home where the baby was staying with her young mother after noticing small baby clothes hanging on the washing line. 

The woman said she asked where the girl’s parents were. She was told they were in Johannesburg and that her neighbour was looking after her.

The accused then lied and posed as a government official assisting people without ID documents or birth certificates.

The young mother did not possess an ID and her baby did not have a birth certificate, which meant they could not get financial assistance from the government. 

The woman then convinced the mother and her neighbour to take her and the baby into the Jozini CBD to apply for an ID and birth certificate. 

Once in town, the accused gave the mother money and instructed her to buy food, assuring her she would look after the baby. As soon as the mother left, the accused fled with the baby boy to Johannesburg. 

The matter only came to light when the accused and her partner at the time were separating, with the partner questioning who the father of the baby was. 

According to regional court prosecutor Sdu Nyawo, who provided the baby’s mother’s victim impact statement, the young mother cried for days and could not eat or sleep.

For years, she searched for her child and each time a tip-off of a lost baby boy was received, she and her family would rush to see if it was hers. 

The young mother also said in her statement her family had spent a lot of money visiting traditional healers in their attempts to locate the child.