DURBAN, March 15 (ANA) – Kidnapping charges were on Wednesday dropped in the case of Sibongile Mbambo and Phumlani Mbokazi who have been implicated in the disappearance of Mbambo’s one-month-old child, Siwaphiwe.
Instead, charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice were instated, the Durban Magistrate’s Court heard on Wednesday morning. Bail was set at R1,000 each.
Acting on behalf of the State, prosecutor Vaneshree Moodley said that after scrutinising the matter, a kidnapping charge would not be proferred.
The fraud charge related to “misrepresenting to the South African Police Services, and inducing them to act at great cost to the State,” said Moodley.
She said that the charge of defeating the ends of justice related to the charge of hijacking that was opened “which cost a lot of money and led to public concern and outrage” after it emerged that the child had in fact not been kidnapped.
She said the State did not oppose bail for either of the accused, but asked that magistrate Mahomed Motala consider the widespread public outcry when deciding on bail.
Mbokazi’s lawyer, Andile Dakela, read out an affidavit on his client’s behalf where he swore that he had no previous convictions or pending cases, was self employed as a metre taxi driver and tuckshop owner, and had three children. The unmarried 26-year-old said he would be able to raise bail of R1,000.
Dakela said his client would like to remain silent until the case came to trial, at which time he would offer testimony.
Mbokazi was clad in a dress shirt and bowtie. When he was led to the dock, his navy-blue waistcoat was covering his face.
Mbambo’s counsel, Mfanafuthi Biyela, told the court his client, a teacher, was the sole breadwinner in the household. Her husband was unemployed and she had four children to support. Her husband, Christopher, was willing to post the bail.
Mbambo, her head covered with an African-print scarf, was barely audible when answering.
Motala said there were no compelling reasons to deny bail as neither suspect was a flight risk and both were gainfully employed.
This was the second appearance for both, who were arrested on Sunday in the alleged kidnapping of Baby Siwaphiwe.
During their first appearance on Monday, both were remanded. Mbokazi had to undergo DNA testing to ascertain if Siwaphiwe was his child, while Mbambo had to secure counsel.
Siwaphiwe was reported abducted in an alleged hijacking attempt in Durban on Friday afternoon. 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 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 amongst police.
The child was found unharmed at Marianhill Toll Plaza at midnight on Saturday and three people, including the child’s mother, were subsequently arrested.
– African News Agency (ANA)