MASERU — ’Mamathealira Letsie perches herself on a tin as she cuddles her three-month-old baby, Limpho.
On Wednesday morning little Limpho was stolen by a woman who had tricked her mother with a promise of a job as a maid in Mokhotlong.
The Sunday Express visited Letsie’s humble home in Qaoling yesterday, two days after she was reunited with her baby.
Since the reunion on Thursday Letsie has not let the baby out of her sight.
The fear of losing her baby again still haunts her.
“I nearly lost my baby,” she says.
It has been a terrible week for Letsie and her family.
Letsie’s nightmare began on Tuesday afternoon when a woman who identified herself as Tebello knocked on her door.
Tebello said she is from Mokhotlong and was looking for someone to look after her children.
She offered Letsie a monthly salary of M600. She also said she was willing to allow Letsie to bring little Limpo along with her.
Desperate for a job, Letsie agreed but said she needed her husband’s approval.
“I needed a job as my husband’s salary was not enough to cater for our needs,” says Letsie whose husband works at a construction company.
It is not hard to understand why Letsie desperately needed a job.
The family stays in a single room at a block of dilapidated flats.
Letsie and her husband can barely make ends meet.
Getting enough to feed their two children is a struggle.
During the interview her two-year-old boy starts crying.
Letsie says the boy wants food but she had none.
He will have to wait for his father to “make a plan” when he comes from work, Letsie says.
The job Tebello had offered was going to help pay the bills and put food on the table.
So around lunch-time Letsie’s husband agreed that she could take the job.
He was to remain with their two-year-old son.
Around 6pm they set off for Maputsoe with Tebello promising that her husband, whom she said worked in South Africa, was going to pick them up for the journey to Mokhotlong.
Letsie said on the way to Maputsoe Tebello had called her husband to remind him that he should be ready to pick them.
Letsie recalls Tebello telling her husband that being a pregnant woman she should not be in the cold for too long.
“She (Tebello) looked pregnant,” Letsie says.
When they arrived in Maputsoe at around 9pm Tebello’s husband was not there.
They waited at the bus stop until 1am when Letsie suggested that they go to the police because “my child will catch cold”.
They spent the night at the police station.
At around 6am Tebello said they should go back to the bus stop to wait for her husband.
Letsie says by this time she was now worried about her son who she had left with her husband in Qoaling.
She called her husband who said the boy had been crying all night.
Tebello said she could go and fetch her son.
She paid her taxi fare and gave her M35.
The agreement was that Letsie should come back with the same taxi because Tebello had negotiated a discount as she did not have enough money.
Tebello insisted that she leaves Limpho to make it easier for her to travel back with her son.
When Letsie arrived in Maseru she called her husband to bring their son to the bus stop.
Her intention was to immediately rush back to Maputsoe.
When she told him that she had left Limpho with Tebello he became furious and ordered her to go back to Maputsoe.
Her nightmare had just started.
In Maputsoe she called Tebello who said she was still waiting for her husband at the bus stop.
“But people around that area said that woman had left a long time ago. Later when I tried to call her the phone was not available.”
She went to the police station where she was advised to sleep over as it was already late.
On Thursday she continued the frantic search for her daughter.
At the station a police officer suggested that she calls Mo-Afrika, a local radio station, to help with the search.
After the announcement one woman called the radio station claiming to be Tebello’s aunt.
Another woman told the radio station that Tebello nearly stole her son.
Later on Thursday a presenter from the radio station called Letsie to tell her that Limpho had been found.
Limpho was brought home by the presenter and a police officer.
Letsie says the police told her that after being arrested Tebello had told them that she had stolen Limpho because she desperately needed a baby.
“She said she was pregnant and had a miscarriage so she could not face her husband as they needed a child.”
Police spokesperson Thato Ramarikhoane said Tebello was arrested in Mathokoane in Leribe.
Ramarikhoane said the suspect had been transferred to Maseru to stand trial.
What happens to Tebello seems to be of little concern to Letsie who is just happy to have her baby back.
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