By Leonard Ncube
A LUPANE man allegedly kidnapped three minor children of his two South African girlfriends and hid them at his rural home in St Paul’s for three years.
Bongani Ncube, 37, from Malunku area brought the three children, a girl aged 10 and boys aged 12 and 15 in May 2011. The girl and the boy aged 12 have the same mother while the 15-year old boy’s mother is another girlfriend.
The 15-year-old boy reportedly fled back to South Africa after the death of his mother. The matter is now being handled by Interpol in what is suspected to be a case of human trafficking.
Police and the Social Welfare Department are making efforts to locate the mother of the two minors who were still under the custody of Ncube. The minors’ mother is Anna Ngobeni of Vusumuzi area in Thembisa, Johannesburg.
Ncube yesterday claimed he is the father of the children said to have been kidnapped. He said he brought them to Zimbabwe with the consent of their mother when life was unbearable following the 2008 xenophobic attacks.
He said his late father and younger sister who is based in South Africa knew about the children.
“I know what I am talking about because I even told their mother when she was pregnant that spirits had shown me in a vision that she would give birth to a baby boy and it came to pass. The same happened with the girl,” said Ncube in an interview at Lupane Police Station.
The children are now at a social welfare home in Bulawayo pending investigations following yesterday’s meeting between the police, the family and the Social Welfare officials.
“They cannot say I stole these children because my father saw the mother when he visited South Africa. She wouldn’t have stolen them from hospital and I also know her uncles who could testify that they are my children,” added Ncube. He said he went to South Africa in 2004 and only returned home with the children in 2011.
Ncube said he could not take them back to their mother because the Limpopo River was flooded. He also said another challenge was that he had no money to transport them as they illegally crossed into Zimbabwe.
He blamed Ngobeni’s former husband, a Chauke, whom he said alleged the children had been kidnapped.
Surprisingly, Ncube said he lost touch with Ngobeni when she left Johannesburg.
“I have no problem if they can be taken back to their mother. They will come back when they are adults. They were using their mother’s surname, Ngobeni, and only changed to Chauke recently,” he said.
The two children denied Ncube was their father before the meeting.
“They say I am Ncube, but I am Chauke. We always knew him as our uncle,” said the boy.
Ncube’s seemingly worried mom said she wished the children could be taken back to their parents because they were giving her sleepless nights.
“I don’t want them to remain here because there are a lot of things happening. They always talk about wanting to go back to their mother and I have interrogated Bongani several times about the issue but he maintains they are his,” she said.
She added: “Police have always been coming to my home and interviewed the children at school and that caused a lot of anxiety. We were convinced Bongani stole the children when we saw a story in the South African Press that the authorities were looking for the children.”
Ncube stays in Bulawayo and police are convinced he hid the children at his rural home.
“We have handed the children to the Social Welfare because they might be taken and hidden somewhere. In the meantime we are communicating with our South African counterparts to assist in locating the mother so that she comes here to clarify the identity of the children,” said Officer Commanding Lupane District, Chief Superintendent Johannes Govo.
He said Ncube had not been detained because investigations were still going on.
“We need proper evidence so we can’t arrest him for now although we suspect the children were kidnapped from South Africa in what could be human trafficking. That is why we are working with social welfare officers.”
A social welfare officer who chose to remain anonymous confirmed that the children were being taken to Bulawayo but could not give details.
“We can’t comment now because we are still investigating and this is a security issue. We suspect there is a syndicate of human traffickers and we are taking the children to Bulawayo as we investigate,” he said. The Chronicle