A month after baby’s abduction, CT mom praying for her child’s safe return

CAPE TOWN – As South Africa marks Child Protection Week, a Cape Town mother continues to pray for the safe return of her two-month-old baby.

Kai-isha Meniers was snatched from her pram outside a supermarket in Bishop Lavis on 30 April.

Days after the abduction, police released CCTV screenshots showing a woman with long hair, dressed in a black and white spotted top and striped pants, carrying a baby wrapped in a pink blanket.

Eyewitness News visited the desperate mother.

While working in the kitchen, Francis Meniers broke down as the pop song Missing You played on the radio.

She said that the pain she felt was indescribable.

"I am praying every night. I’ve been posting on Facebook, anyone who knows something, just to call police or even me… But I don’t know what to do anymore. I was still busy making posters all by myself to get my baby," Meniers said.

The heartbroken woman said that she was losing hope because police had over the past four weeks been telling her that they were doing all they could to find her missing baby but had so far been unable to trace the child or her kidnapper.

Meniers said the day her baby disappeared was the first time she had seen the suspect, who had approached her at the Bishop Lavis shopping centre earlier that day.

Police have told the family to be strong and allow detectives to do their work, but this is cold comfort for the her parents and siblings, who spend every hour of every day anguishing about where little Kai-isha could be and if she is safe.

CHILD PROTECTION

The Bishop Lavis Community Policing Forum says there’s a great need for education and awareness around child protection.

As the country marks Child Protection Week, the Cape Town suburb has experienced at least two traumatic incidents involving children in recent weeks.

The community has been rocked by the abduction of two-month-old Kai-isha Meniers outside a local supermarket and the deaths of two young brothers in a house fire.

It’s been very traumatic for the community, for the family and for the neighbourhood watch because finding the child alive is the most important thing for us now. The feeling of the community is that SAPS hasn’t done what they’re supposed to do. They haven’t given the resources that they could give to this case," Bishop Lavis community policing forum chairperson, Graham Lindhorst, said.

He has been closely involved in the search for little Kai-isha Meniers over the past four weeks.

The baby was snatched by an unknown woman, who can only be identified via CCTV images and a police identikit at this stage.

Days later, the community had to deal with the deaths of two children in a house fire.

The incidents raise the issue of child protection and Lindhorst believes more awareness is necessary.

"There’s a huge need because you would find children wandering around on their own late at night. Many times, late at night you’d find a little child wandering around without any care and especially because it’s a working-class community, I think the need is so much bigger to educate," Lindhorst said.

This year’s Child Protection week theme is "Let us protect children during Covid19 and beyond" and citizens can show support by wearing green ribbons.

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