#HelpFindDurbanBaby: baby Siwaphiwe found as SAPS arrest her mother

durban baby girl siwaphiwe twitter

Update #2, 12 March, 12.50pm: Baby Siwaphiwe has been found at Marianhill toll plaza in the early hours of Sunday morning, Police tweeted. The toll plaza is located along the N2 in Pinetown, on the outskirts of Durban’s metropolitan area.

However, a new twist has emerged in the story.

Police have arrested three suspects — a woman, a man, and Siwaphiwe’s mother — due to “too many inconsistencies” in the latter’s story.

“Too many inconsistencies emerged during the interviews especially in terms of the initial reporting to the police of how the incident developed. Information generated from the interviews became critical in the setting up of a roadblock in Marianhill in the early hours of this morning,” SAPS writes in a press release on Facebook.

“A car was stopped by the police wherein a man, a woman and the baby in question was found with the baby unharmed. The baby has been placed under the care of Social Development. Three people including the 34 year old biological mother of the baby, another woman and a man, have been arrested and are in custody.”

Siwaphiwe’s mother?

Twitter users, who came out in mass support for Siwaphiwe’s carer, have expressed their disdain at her possible involvement.

SAPS has announced that those arrested in connection with Siwaphiwe’s abduction will appear in court “soon”.

Update #1, 11 March, 6.40pm: While the search for Siwaphiwe continues in Durban, another baby has been found abandoned in Clare Hills, Durban.

According to a News24 report, the baby was found at around 2.30pm SAST Saturday beneath a tree. His placenta was still attached.

Police has also offered those with information leading to the arrest of Siwaphiwe’s abductors a R250 000 reward.

Original article: South Africa’s trending topic on Twitter tonight is one that’s not steeped in happiness, but rather of hope. #HelpFindDurbanBaby is the response from the social network in the wake of a hijacking in Durban, which left a mother without her one-month old baby daughter.

The hijacking took place at around 12am SAST in Durban’s Game Park. The mother of the baby, and driver of the Toyota Yaris, was with her mother and younger brother when the incident occurred. The hijackers however didn’t just take the car.

They also took baby Siwaphiwe.

The Yaris was later found abandoned in the Durban suburb of Montclair, but there were no signs of the baby.

Durban’s SAPS have mobilised most of its available forces in a bid to find the baby, and has even taken to social media to access users.

SAPS using social media as a mouthpiece

The initial Facebook post garnered over 160 shares, and 70 additional interactions. This was made without the mention of baby Siwaphiwe though. The Twitter post (below) was retweeted 19 times since.

But the tweet that really gained traction was the first image of Siwaphiwe, which has now been retweeted and reposted on the social network countless times.

A follow up post, which was published to Facebook around 5pm SAST, garnered an additional 3400 shares.

Social media rallies to find Durban’s abducted baby girl

But the police aren’t the only ones looking for her. Twitter has erupted in support for both the mother, and in a bid to aid authorities.

#HelpFindDurbanBaby became a trending topic in Durban, and later across South Africa, as the story began proliferating mainstream media. Local radio station East Coast Radio was responsible for some of the most retweeted posts, while the likes of the BBC also picked up the story.

While users on the social network expressed their will to help, and well wishes to those involved. #BabySiwaphiwe was another hashtag seen on Twitter and Facebook today.

While this is a dire situation, the use of social media in this instance does suggest its composed of more than just trolls and sacks of salt. While no further progress has been announced by SAPS, there is a definite sense of hope surrounding these hashtags and the tweets that contain them.

While South Africans do have a knack for finding the humourous in the often serious, and can use social media as a negative mouthpiece, the country’s social media users can also issue rallying cries when some need it most.

I can’t think of a better example than this.

If you have additional information relation to baby Siwaphiwe, you can call SAPS’s KwaZulu-Natal division at +27 (0)86 001 0111, tweet SAPS here, or contact the service on Facebook.

This is a developing story…

Feature image: SAPS via Twitter

Andy Walker, former editor


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