Baby Betty’s fugitive father tracked down
CAPTIONS: TRACKED DOWN: Mangena outside court
RELIEVED: Morris could soon be reunited with her daughter
After almost three years on the run,Nelson MoyoMangena finally had his day in court on Wednesday (11 September).
Police have been searching for the 37-year-old Zimbabwean since 6 November 2016, after he absconded with his young daughter.
Mangena had taken baby Betty Morris, then aged 19 months, from her mother, Oratile Morris, 34, promising to return her in a week’s time – a regular arrangement between the two former lovers.
However, Mangena never returned, disappearing with his daughter.
Although it was thought he had fled to his native country, the fugitive was arrested in Tonota on Sunday evening after two locals recognised him from his picture in The Voice.
Looking disheveled and worn-out -a far cry from the fresh-faced youth who vanished three years ago – Mangena was charged with ill treatment of a child and entering the country through an ungazetted point. The charges are likely to be upgraded as investigations continue.
In his defence, the suspect insisted Morris gave him the child to care for because she no longer wanted her.
Mangena further told Francistown Magistrate Court he was left with no option but to relocate to his homeland with baby Betty.
According to the runaway dad, the girl, who is now almost five, is still in Zimbabwe and is being looked after by his uncle.
“In 2016, when I took her, I stayed with her for seven months then left her with my grandmother. I then took her to my uncle because I want to enroll her in a school,” said Mangena, adding he was last with his daughter in June.
In response to the police’s accusation that he has been less than helpful with their investigations, Mangenamaintained he was unable to get in touch with his uncle as he recently lost his cellphone.
“I lost my phone last week with all the contacts. Because I entered this country illegally, I also used it when taking the child to Zimbabwe because I don’t have travelling documents,”explained the accused.
Urging court not to grant the suspect bail,Investigating Officer, Milton Almando said,“Since he took the child, the mother had no contact with the child. He denied the mother to communicate with the child, even on the phone.
“We have to liaise with Zimbabwe Interpol to help locate the child.”
Although she remanded him in custody, presiding Magistrate CeleLebakeng told Mangena he must present his daughter by his next court appearance, which she brought forward to Thursday, 19 September.
“I am worried about the child. Two weeks is too far; I want this matter next week!” ordered Lebakeng.