The 21-year-old Chipinge woman who did the unthinkable when she posed as a Good Samaritan to a ‘post-partum mother’ at a local hospital and later stole her five-day-old baby in a desperate bid to save her own marriage has been arrested and arraigned in court.


Joyce Maputire, of Chikwakwate Village, under Chief Muusha, stole a polydactyl baby boy belonging to Memory Mhlanga at Chipinge District Hospital last Saturday. Polydactyl is a condition of having extra fingers and the baby had twelve fingers.

The baby was set to undergo a surgical operation at the hospital when the incident happened. Maputire appeared before Chipinge magistrate Mr Poterai Gwezhira on Wednesday facing kidnapping charges as defined in Section 193(1) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23.

She was convicted on her own plea of guilt. Mr Gwezhira remanded her in custody pending sentencing as he need
time to consult on the appropriate penalty. Asked why she committed the offence, Maputire said she wanted to save her marriage since her husband had threatened to divorce her for falling to pregnant.

“Your Worship, my husband is in South Africa, and sometime last year I lied to him that he had impregnated before he left. After telling him that I was pregnant, he bought preparation for the child. I told him that I was supposed to give birth this month and this week I advised him that I had given birth to a baby boy through a caesarean section.

“I also lied to him that the nurses advised me against breast feeding as a result of the complication I had when giving birth. He also sent me packs of baby formula (Nan 1 milk) to feed the baby. Your Worship, forgive me because I did this out of desperation to save my marriage. I have been trying to have a baby with my husband for three years but nothing happened,” she said.

In convicting her, Mr Gwezhira said Maputire deserved to be incarcerated for life.

He postponed passing sentence saying he needs time to consult other senior judicial officers. “The accused is facing a life jail sentence, and this court has no jurisdiction to pass the sentence. I will consult the regional court for sentence,” he said.

The court heard that Maputire accompanied Mhlanga to the maternity ward during the Saturday afternoon visiting hour and posed as a legitimate visitor.

She learnt that the newly born baby was set to undergo a surgical operation and then pledged to the complainant that she will settle medical expenses and buy some clothes for the baby.

On March 3, Maputire returned to the hospital and donated a baby blanket and later joined Mhlanga for the operation.

Maputire, who had since gained Mhlanga’s confidence through the blanket donation, then took the baby as they walked together to the operation suite at the outpatient department where the surgical operation was to be done.

Upon arrival at the surgical room, Maputire entered into one of the offices and told an unsuspecting Mhlanga that there were some missing documents which were required before the operation. The Mhlanga then left the baby in the care of Maputire and rushed to the maternity ward to collect the required papers.


Maputire took the opportunity and vanished from the hospital premises with the baby.

Alarm was raised and detectives made a follow up. The baby was discovered 48 hours later at Maputire’s home in Chimanimani following a tip off from members of the public.