Toronto mother reunited with kids in Zimbabwe after alleged abduction
Published Monday, December 17, 2012 8:18AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 17, 2012 3:08PM EST
A Toronto mother tearfully thanked authorities Monday for their help in reuniting her with her two young children after they were allegedly abducted by relatives while on a summer vacation in Zimbabwe.
Speaking at Toronto Police news conference, Beatra Muzabazi said she thought she’d never again see her daughter Renee, 7, and son Shane, 4, after they were allegedly kidnapped by relatives and placed in a boarding school in Zimbabwe.
“I just want to thank everybody who helped us,” the single mother said. “Without you guys, there would be no way.”
The reunion ended a four-month long ordeal for Muzabazi, who smiled as she posed for photos with her children in her arms.
The saga began after the two children went to visit their paternal relatives in Muzabazi’s native African country during the vacation -- a journey that had occurred many times before without issue. But the woman grew concerned when her children didn’t arrive back as scheduled. Instead, police allege the paternal family members placed the kids in a Zimbabwean boarding school.
Back in early September, a worried Muzabazi was advised by a lawyer to contact police, who then notified the Department of Foreign Affairs, the RCMP, Interpol and the Zimbabwe Central Authority in launching an investigation.
Police also allege the boarding school was complicit in keeping Zimbabwe police from finding the children, suggesting that the school helped a family member in Zimbabwe flee with the children after Muzabazi arrived at the school and waited outside to take back her son and daughter.
Running out of money, Muzabazi almost gave up on her hunt and considered returning to Canada without her kids.
Then, on Dec. 11, the children were brought to the Canadian embassy in Harare, where they were reunited with Muzabazi. The family returned to Toronto two days later.
Muzabazi, who works two jobs to support her children, says even now that her harrowing experience is over, she’s having difficulty getting back into a normal sleeping routine.
“I find myself up at 2 a.m. sometimes, checking on my phone, because that was my routine every day -- just trying to find out what is going on,” she said.
Muzabazi has sole custody of both children, who were born and raised in Canada.
A criminal investigation into the alleged kidnapping continues.
With files from The Canadian Press