DURBAN, 9 May 2017 – A schoolteacher and her alleged lover made their third appearance in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday in connection with a hoax hijacking in which the woman’s one-month-old baby was falsely said to have been kidnapped.
Sibongile Mbambo (34) and 26-year-old Phumlani Mbokazi – a self employed metered-taxi driver who has three children – appeared before Magistrate Mahomed Motala on charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice.
The case was remanded to 22 June for further investigation and bail was extended.
Sibongile again appeared with a scarf covering her head until she faced the magistrate, as she had done during both previous appearances.
Her husband, Christopher Mbambo, was seated in the gallery throughout. He had previously paid his wife’s bail of R1,000.
A handful of protesters took their places in the gallery during the brief appearance, clad in T-Shirts reading “Justice for Baby Siwaphiwe” and “United for Baby Siwaphiwe”.
Speaking to the African News Agency (ANA), the small group said they attended court in support of the child.
In March, a charge of kidnapping was proffered, but the State dropped this in favour of fraud and defeating the ends of justice when the hijacking was found to be a hoax that was orchestrated by Mbambo and Mbokazi.
Baby Siwaphiwe was placed in the care of the State.
Siwaphiwe was reported abducted in a hijacking attempt in Durban on Friday 10 March. Mbambo said two men had forced her and her eight-year-old son out of her vehicle and sped off with the child.
Hundreds of police, emergency services and volunteers joined the search on Saturday, which made national and international headlines.
Mbambo’s vehicle was found abandoned in Montclair, but the baby seat and baby apparel had been taken. This, and other “inconsistencies” in Mbambo’s statements, raised suspicions among police.
The child was found unharmed at Marianhill Toll Plaza at midnight on Saturday 12 March and three people, including the child’s mother, were subsequently arrested. It was not immediately clear if the third suspect would be charged.
Police said they would file a civil suit against the suspects for costs incurred through time and resources.
– African News Agency (ANA)