The Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court recently sentenced two out of the five accused individuals to 15 years in prison for their roles in the kidnapping of Baby Eden. The sentences were handed down on August 29.
Accused one, Nelisani Gabela, and accused five, Cleopatra Manjankozi, both faced charges of kidnapping and extortion about the incident. Both accused parties have lodged appeals against their sentences following the sentencing.
Throughout the legal proceedings, each suspect maintained a plea of not guilty. The harrowing incident occurred when Baby Eden was reported missing on May 2, 2018. Allegedly, a housekeeper took the toddler outside his Brackendowns residence for an outing and did not return.
Cleopatra Manjankozi had been recommended for employment by Eden’s grandparents, who had previously employed her. She had worked as the family’s housekeeper for two years before the events of the kidnapping unfolded.
The abductor demanded a staggering ransom of R6 million for the safe release of the baby. In a grim turn of events, the Laird family, Baby Eden’s parents, paid an initial ransom of R125,000.
Fortunately, Baby Eden was located in Windmill Park, near Boksburg, as part of a police sting operation. The successful operation led to his safe return to his parents’ care on May 5, 2018.
The initial court appearance for the suspects took place on May 7, 2018. As the legal process continues, Nelisani Gabela and Cleopatra Manjankozi will appear again on September 11 to formally submit their appeals against the sentences.
Should their appeal applications be granted, the case will be elevated from the regional court to the high court, marking another step in pursuing justice for Baby Eden and his family.
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