Christians at St Thomas Aquinas Sub-Parish of Kyebando, a Kampala suburb, were on Sunday morning shocked to learn about the theft of a baby whom the parents unknowingly handed over to a kidnapper during morning Mass.
According to Fr Nicholas Kerebba Mumbi, the priest who presided over the Mass, Christians heard that the four-month-old baby was taken away from the parents by an unknown woman, who vanished before Mass ended.
“We used to hear the stories of children being stolen in hospitals and now the wave has come to church. We expect everybody coming here to be coming to worship yet they have other motives,” Fr Kerebba said.
He was opening the 2020 week of prayer for christian unity at Our Lady of the Sick Mulago Catholic Parish.
How baby was stolen
According to Ms Abia Kesanda, the baby’s mother, at about 10am after spending an hour in church, a lady in a blue dress, who was seated behind her and her husband, requested to carry the baby.
Ms Kesanda said since they were in church, she did not suspect any ill motive and she surrendered the baby to the stranger.
“She even took a walk outside the church and returned with the baby. She told me not to worry because they were going to seat outside the church with the baby under a window she directed me to. When I went to check again, they were nowhere to be seen,” she said.
Ms Kesanda made the announcement in church but efforts to trace the kidnapper and the baby were futile.
Records at Kanyanya Police Post, where the case was registered, indicate that this is the second baby to have been stolen from Kyebando last weekend.
Mr Ivan Niwenyesiga, a carpenter at Silver Wood shop in Kisaasi, said at about 8pm last Saturday, his nine-month-old daughter was stolen from her seven-year-old-sister while his wife was chatting with a neighbour.
“The woman who stole the child is believed to have rented here for two weeks to monitor the situation. She found my daughter carrying the sister and she tricked her to go and buy for her candles. When she came back, she did not see both of them,” he narrated.
This is the newest form of crime against children. Previously, the most prevalent has been theft of babies from hospitals, kidnap for ransom and child ritual sacrifices.
Ms Imelda Nakalema, a catechist of St Thomas of Aquinas Church, said this is the first case of child theft in the church.
“The people who saw her (kidnaper) say the lady came wearing a blue dress with white beads. A boda boda man followed her shortly afterwards and remained waiting for her outside the church gate,” Ms Nakalema said.
“The lady came out from the church with a child, then she went back inside and later came out again with the child and went to the boda-boda man and they rode away,” she added.
Ms Clare Kamukugize, the criminal investigations officer at Kanyanya Police Station, said they had not made progress on the investigations because the case was reported a day before.
Asked whether they had picked any clues about the kidnaper from security cameras which are fixed in all directions corners leading to and out of the church, which is a few metres off the Kyebando Ring road, Ms Kamukugize said they had not.
“The cameras do not reach where the church is. Besides, we do not know how the suspect looks like. It requires the parents to come and we look through the footage together so that we can identify the suspect but we are carrying out our own investigations,” she said.