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Sun Jun 26 19:13:31 CAT 2016

Relief after mom reunited with kidnapped son

Philani Nombembe | 02 March, 2016 00:53
NOT LETTING GO: Baby boy Sergio Strydom is reunited with his mother, Juanita Muller, after he was abducted from Worcester Hospital in Western Cape
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER

Juanita Muller could not take her eyes off her baby yesterday.

The last time she did was on Thursday evening when baby Sergio Strydom was snatched from a maternity ward at Worcester Hospital near Cape Town. He was just 10 days old.

A 17-year-old girl charged with the kidnapping appeared in the Worcester Magistrate's Court yesterday.

Muller and the baby were reunited on Friday after the teenager was arrested along with a 42-year-old woman, who is believed to be her mother, in Ashton.

The mother was released yesterday due to a lack of evidence linking her to the abduction.

"I can't explain how I felt when I got my baby back," said Muller.

"I felt extremely angry when the child was missing, but I got extremely happy when I held my baby in my arms again.

"I am very protective of my child now. I will not let anyone come anywhere near him."

The child's father, Gerald Strydom, said he had been distraught at his son's abduction. The couple have three other children.

"I had a hard time. I couldn't eat or sleep."

Strydom recalled that the teenager befriended them at the hospital. He said she told them that she had a miscarriage and was waiting for her uncle to pick her up.

"Police showed me the CCTV footage and I immediately recognised her," Strydom said.

"When I left the hospital on Thursday she was chatting to my girlfriend."

In a strange twist, the teenager gave Strydom her cellphone number and address in Ashton. Police used this to track her down.

Yesterday's court proceedings were held in camera to protect the identity of the teenager.

Senior prosecutor Charlene Mostert said the accused had been referred to a place of safety.

The matter has been postponed to March 24.

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