An employee at a South African supermarket was detained after he was seen on surveillance footage opportunistically stealing an 8-month-old baby from the mother’s shopping cart.
The disturbing incident occurred last Sunday at a SuperSpar shop in Alberton, a suburb of Johannesburg, while the mother and her daughter stood idly in front of a refrigerator in the butcher aisle, according to the Alberton Record.
The apron-clad employee can be seen cautiously moving toward the two as the unsuspecting mother peers into the refrigerator in the since-viralized security video.
Shortly after the mother leaned over to grab something, a 43-year-old store employee was seen gently removing the infant girl from the shopping cart and leaving.
After realising her daughter was left, the frightened mother ran after the employee, as seen in the video.
The staffer then stood there, attempting to justify his conduct as the mother rocked her infant.
In a since-deleted Facebook post, the mom said the employee was laughing in the moments after the ordeal.
“He is smiling and laughing, telling me he walked past the trolley and my daughter’s arms were up, so he picked her up,” she wrote. “I keep saying this is not funny. You don’t touch a child, you don’t take a child. This isn’t a joke, and I don’t find it amusing.”
The mom added that the store manager had “advised he didn’t mean any harm.”
The store said that the employee had been suspended, while the police detained the man on attempted kidnapping charges.
Later, the grocery chain released a statement expressing their “great relief” that the attempted kidnapping was thwarted and their commitment to working with the police investigation.
According to a spokeswoman, “The SPAR Group is also contacting the family to offer any support they need, including counselling.”