Kidnapped Alberton baby case: Court denies sentence appeal

The domestic helper and her co-accused who kidnapped a 13-month-old baby in 2018, were given a 15-year sentence in August.

After five years, the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court has concluded baby Eden Laird’s kidnapping matter.

Nelisani Gabela and Cleopatra Manjankozi were found guilty of extortion and kidnapping little Eden, and each received a 15-year imprisonment sentence.

After the magistrate handed down the sentences, both appealed the court’s decision and submitted their appeal applications before the court.

The local magistrate’s court denied their applications and sent them to prison to start serving their sentences.

Eden, who was only 13 months old when kidnapped, was reported missing on May 2, 2018. The domestic helper took Eden on a stroll from his house in Brackendowns, Alberton, and never returned, according to police reports.

The Lairds had employed Manjankozi for two years after Eden’s grandparents, who she had previously worked for, suggested her.

To release the child, the offenders sought R6m in ransom. The Lairds gave the kidnappers a first ransom of R125 000.

Eden was safely returned to his parents on May 5, 2018, thanks to a police sting operation that resulted in his discovery in Windmill Park near Boksburg.

After their initial court appearance on May 7, 2018, Gabela and Manjankozi received their verdict at the end of August. Admos Moyo, Nonkanyiso Maduna, and Kholwani Nyathi were the other three accused. However, they were not found guilty because of a lack of evidence.

During the court proceedings, the magistrate said that although the kidnappers had already stayed in prison for five years, the courts must ensure justice is served and a strong message is sent to the public that kidnapping is not tolerated in SA because it puts caregivers under a lot of stress, emotionally and financially.

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