Date:12 October 2015 - By: Elmon Tshikhudo
What was supposed to be a well-deserved maternity leave for a well-known Malamulele traffic officer has turned into a nightmare after she was arrested for kidnapping.
Glory Masingita Chavani (45), who is stationed at the Malamulele traffic station, had booked maternity leave that was to end in January next year. What nobody knew was that she had allegedly faked the pregnancy, while planning to steal the child of a relative.
Last Thursday she had allegedly phoned the young Hlulani Maswanganyi (17), a relative with a month-old baby, Timothy Mbavala, and requested her to come to Masingita Chavani 's home at Xikundu in Malamulele.
Since that time, Maswanganyi has been missing and her baby was found with the traffic officer on Monday. It is also alleged that a getaway car was taken from its owner in Thohoyandou, under the pretext that it was to be prayed for as it was cursed. The rumour doing the rounds in the area is that Masingita Chavani has a new lover and that the new lover wanted a child and, out of desperation, she faked a pregnancy.
Ms Bertha Khosa, elder sister of Hlulani Maswanganyi’s mother, said that the traffic officer was arrested because the family was aware of her closeness to Hlulani. “On the day Hlulani went missing, the officer phoned her at home and asked her to come there. She also told Hlulani not to tell anyone that she was going with her to fetch nappies she had bought for her baby."
Hlulani, however, told family members she was going to Masingita Chavani, who had phoned her, said Khosa. She also said Hlulani later sent a Whatsapp message to her mother-in-law that she had been kidnapped and was passing through Halahala and M’tititi and that the vehicle she was in was being driven by people smoking dagga. "But when we later phoned her, we did not receive any answer."
Masingita Chavani appeared in the Malamulele Magistrate's Courts on Wednesday. The appearance took place after it was alleged that a 22-year-old man had confessed to killing Hlulani and that her body had been dumped somewhere in the vicinity of the Nandoni Dam. The police took most of the day to comb the area for the body.
Casually dressed, Masingita Chavani first entered the dock, but her case was adjourned for almost an hour after it was put to the court that her legal representative was not yet present. When it resumed after lunch, the legal representative was not there and magistrate Cedric Baloyi postponed the matter to 14 October for further investigations.
Outside the court, hundreds of people from Xikundu Village in Malamulele demanded that no bail should be granted to her after she was charged with two counts of kidnapping and one of child stealing. The police had their hands full, trying to control the crowds who braved the scorching heat to have a glimpse of the suspect.
Only a limited number of protesters were allowed in court and the rest had to wait at the local police station. Community members, mostly women from Xikundu, toyi-toyied and waved placards with messages on and sang anti-Masingita songs outside the court. The protesters made it clear that she should not be granted bail as she was not fit to stay with people.
Mr Moses Maluleke, a civic leader at Xikundu, said their being at court was a sign that the community was angry. "We felt that we should come here to show our unhappiness with what happened as the community is angry about what happened," he said.
Limpopo Police spokesperson Col Ronel Otto confirmed that the baby had been found and was safe, but that the baby’s mother had not yet been found and that investigations were continuing. She could not confirm the alleged murder of the child’s mother.
Hlulani Maswanganyi, who was allegedly kidnapped by a traffic officer last Thursday.
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.