When a car gets hijacked in Botswana and is driven across the border into Zimbabwe, it takes the boys in blue roughly a week to retrieve the vehicle and return it to the country.
If the cops were as efficient in dealing with baby Betty, the youngster could be back at home with her mother, doing Standard Three at Shashe Mooke Primary School.
Instead, six years after she went missing, allegedly kidnapped by her father, Nelson Mangena, 40, the little girl remains in Zimbabwe.
After three years on the run, Mangena was arrested in Tonota in September 2019, tracked down by two men who had read a previous story in The Voice and recognised him from his picture.
Charged with child abduction, the Zimbabwean maintained his innocence, admitting he had taken his daughter but insisting her mother, Oratile Morris, handed over the child freely.
Mangena, who has long since been granted bail, told court Betty was safely with his family in Zwimba, a small village in Mashonaland West Province some 620km from the border – a statement DNA tests would later confirm to be true.
The little girl was taken into social care, with Francistown police starting the long process with Interpol to reunite Betty with her mum.
Three years later and precious little progress has been made.
Confirming this to The Voice, Central Station Commander, Lebalang Maniki, revealed Interpol intel finally responded this year and were now awaiting feedback from Zimbabwe Children’s Welfare Department.
“We also met with the child’s mother and updated her about the matter. The reason it took so long is that we are dealing with another country. They still have to look at the reasons we gave them and give us the response,” explained Maniki.
When asked for an update on Mangena’s case, the top cop admitted he was clueless as to the progress in the matter and would have to consult with the DPP.
Meanwhile, fed-up with the police’s apparent stalling, in a recent interview with The Voice, Morris, 39, revealed she had unsuccessfully tried to sell her donkey and goat in an effort to raise funds to travel to Zim herself.
“I do not know anymore; no one bought my goat and donkey. I tried everything I could but, without the finances, I cannot go to Zimbabwe. Even when I walk there, I cannot walk back with the child; we will need transport money,” she said, failing to blink back tears as she adds she has heard rumours Betty is not in social care at all but still staying with Mangena’s relatives.
Although she has given up physically, Morris, who has three other children, says she will continue to fight through prayer, trusting in God to help the police bring her baby home.
Betty was just 19 months old when she disappeared.
She is now nearly eight, a little girl with no memory of her mum.