A courtroom drama unfolded on Wednesday at the Kriel Magistrate’s Court, where two Zim women, Grace Gumbo (26) and Mercy Tsoko (28), faced charges of serial child abduction and contravening the Immigration Act of South Africa.
Grace and Mercy: Two Zim women in SA illegally due in court for child abduction
Grace and Mercy, seemingly on a nefarious spree, are linked to the abduction of a four-month-old baby girl in Thubelihle, Kriel, on 28 December 2023.
The plot thickened when police arrested them on New Year’s Day with not one, but three abducted children.
Tip-offs from the community painted a picture of the pair posing as caregivers, wandering in Ogies with the three babies. Acting on this information, Kriel police quickly responded and apprehended the suspects, who were found in a shack with two baby girls and a baby boy.
The police’s discovery revealed a deeper, more disturbing narrative. Besides the four-month-old girl, a three-year-old boy suspected to have been abducted from Marble Hall in April 2023 was found.
Adding to this twisted tale, an eight-month-old girl believed to have been abducted from Springs in September 2023 was also in their possession.
Charged with abduction and immigration violations, the possibility of additional charges looms as the investigation progresses.
Their previous court appearance on Tuesday saw the matter postponed to Wednesday for further probing, with both suspects remaining in custody.
Amidst this unsettling saga, the police are calling on the community to help locate the families of the two other children from Marble Hall and Springs.
The worrying trends of child kidnappings in South Africa
Child abduction in South Africa remains a critical issue.
Bianca van Aswegen, the National Coordinator of Missing Children SA, highlights that at least 77% of missing children are found, yet the increase in kidnappings is of great concern.
South Africa is grappling with various forms of child abductions, including opportunistic kidnappings, ransom kidnappings, and those for traditional medicine purposes or human trafficking.