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2024/01/05      |  Written By:  Brigadier S Mohlala   |   Province:  Mpumalanga

Two female Zimbabwean nationals, Grace Gumbo (26) and Mercy Tsoko (28) are expected to appear again at the Kriel Magistrate’s Court for the second time today, Wednesday 03 January 2024 on charges of child abduction and contravention of the Immigration Act of South Africa. Their appearance is in connection with a case in which it was previously reported that a four-months-old baby girl was abducted at Thubelihle in Kriel on Thursday, 28 December 2023.

The suspects were arrested on new year's day, Monday 01 January 2024 and it is in fact alleged that they abducted a total of three children, including the baby girl abducted on that Thursday (28 December 2023). Police got a tip-off from community members about the two women who were pretending to be care givers that were roaming around Ogies with three babies. The Police in Kriel swiftly responded to the information then managed to arrest the two female suspects and reportedly found them with three children, two baby girls as well as one baby boy. 

The two were reportedly cornered in one of the shacks in Ogies. It was during this period when the astute members discovered that, besides the four months old girl, there was a baby boy who is believed to be three years old and it is suspected that the child was also abducted at Marble Hall in April 2023. As if that was not enough, another baby girl believed to be eight months old was found as well during the arrest of the two. This child also is believed to have been abducted at Springs in September 2023 allegedly by the two women.

The two female suspects were charged with abduction as well as contravention of the Immigration Act of South Africa. Police cannot rule out the possibility of adding more charges against them as the investigation continues. During their court appearance on Tuesday, 02 January 2024 the matter was postponed to Wednesday, 03 January 2024 for further investigation meanwhile the two remained in custody.

Police urge members of the community to assist in locating the families of the two other children, one from Marble Hall and the other from Springs to contact Kriel SAPS on 082 798 0723 or call the Crime Stop number at 08600 10111. Alternatively, members of the public can send information via MYSAPSAPP. All received information will be treated as confidential and callers may opt to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has applauded members of the public who alerted the Police about the two suspects. The General also appreciated the men and women in Blue for their swift response which led to the arrest.