“Is my daughter still alive?”

Christinah Motlhabane
LOSING HOPE: Oratile Morris

Desperate and down, Baby Betty’s mum seeks answers

“Is she even alive? Why are the police dragging their feet? Are they not interested in my case or rather hiding the fact that my daughter is dead,” demands Oratile Morris, desperately blinking back angry tears.

It is five years since Morris, 37, last saw her daughter, Betty Morris.

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Baby Betty was 19 months old when she was kidnapped by her father, Nelson Moyo Mangena, 38, and smuggled to Zimbabwe, where she remains today.

Now nearly seven, she is no long a baby but a little girl with no memory of her mother.

After three years on the run, Mangena was arrested in Tonota village in October 2019 thanks to two ‘Voice heroes’ who recognized the fugitive from his picture in a previous story from The Voice.

The duo, Mothusi Baipoledi and Rebonweemang Moring, trailed the missing man for close to 11 hours before police finally arrived to detain him.

The runaway dad, who has long since been granted bail, admitted leaving his daughter with his family in his home district of Zvimba, some 620 kilometres from the Botswana border.

The child was promptly located and handed over to Zimbabwe’s social welfare service, with blood tests proving she was indeed ‘Baby Betty’.

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Working with their Zimbabwean counterparts, the local cops promised to begin the repatriation process immediately. That was in November 2019.
21 months later and mother and daughter are yet to be reunited.

BLURRED MEMORY: Mangena with Betty shortly after her birth

“I wish I was not poor. I could be going to Zimbabwe to look for my child. Why me, why should I cry for my child every minute when she is alive as they say. How can Interpol take two years to bring my daughter? Is she even under the social welfare, I smell a rat in this case,” sobbed Morris, no longer able to suppress the tears that had threatened earlier.

The grieving mum, who has four other children, is furious at the authorities’ slow progress in the case, accusing the boys in blue of leaving her in the dark.

“I always go to the police station and to the DPP and they will tell me to go back home promising to call me back and they never call. I do not know if they will ever go to take her!”

Breathing heavily as she thinks of her missing child, Morris, who currently resides in a one-bedroomed house in Shashemooke, weeps again.

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“I wonder how she is. I hardly sleep, asking myself if she is eating well, taken care of or even happy. At least if I could have been allowed to talk to her, it would be better. But I was only told she is alive. I kindly ask with anyone who can assist to help bring back my child,” she ends desperately.

Meanwhile, Central Station Commander, Lebalang Maniki insisted his officers were doing everything in their power to ensure Morris minor’s safe return.

“Even though I am not sure when she will be brought here I can confirm that we are making an effort for her to come. We will make a follow-up with Interpol soon. The process between Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) and Zimbabwe is the one that is delaying,” maintained Maniki, absolving his officers of any wrongdoing.

His words will come as little comfort to Morris as the long wait to see her little girl rumbles on.

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