Alicia Lamprecht was reunited with her baby, Henco, after her car was stolen in Observatory on Monday morning with her son inside.
With the help of the police, the neighbourhood watch and the community, Henco was delivered safely back into his mother’s arms three hours after his mother’s car was taken with him still strapped into his car seat at the back.
Ms Lamprecht, 28, of Brackenfell, was leaving a friend’s house in Bishop Road and had just put Henco into his car seat in her silver VW Polo when her friend’s dog ran out and Ms Lamprecht tried to get it back inside the property.
“All of a sudden, I heard tyres screeching; then I saw my car was gone,” she said. “I immediately started screaming , ‘My baby, my baby’.”
She called the Observatory Neighbourhood Watch, the Woodstock police and armed response immediately.
She accompanied the armed-response vehicle as it followed her car, which is equipped with a satellite-tracking device. They tracked the car to a spot near the M5 bridge in Mowbray. The vehicle was abandoned.
“When I got to the car, I checked for the baby in the back seat, though the baby, car seat and baby bag were missing,” she said.
Ms Lamprecht and the armed-response officer visited nearby buildings to see if there was any surveillance footage that might show someone leaving the vehicle with her baby.
It was all hands on deck: her husband, Coenie Lamprecht, was driving around with the police; Ms Lamprecht’s picture and contact number were shared on social media; she appeared on radio shows; and her church group and the moms’ WhatsApp group she belongs to joined the search.
Then, just after 1pm, a woman called the police. According to Woodstock police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Alroy van der Berg, the caller told them “a vehicle stopped on the side of the road and tossed the baby and car seat on the side of the road in Maitland”.
The police and Mr Lamprecht went to the scene where they found young Henco near Delville Square and Alexandra Road, Maitland.
Ms Lamprecht said the woman who found her son had wrapped him up in a blanket and called the police.
Henco had some scrapes and bruises from being tossed out of a vehicle but was otherwise uninjured, she said.
“We will be taking him to a paediatrician to have a closer look at him,” she said, adding that she had gone through an emotional roller coaster. “I experienced anger, fear, sadness and relief.”
She is afraid to go anywhere at the moment and is also worried because her house keys and wallet were stolen along with her car.
“I am thinking I don’t want to go anywhere; I just want to be home with my baby.”
She thanked everyone who helped to find Henco.
Provincial police spokesman Colonel André Traut said police were investigating a hijacking and a kidnapping, but not arrests had been made.