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Zim man guilty of bid to kidnap toddler in UK

CARDIFF Crown Court
CARDIFF Crown Court

Zondo: 'I was being friendly'

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By Vicky Shaw

A Zimbabwean man was today found guilty of trying to abduct a two-year-old toddler as she became momentarily separated from her mother at a city centre store in Cardiff, Wales.

Failed asylum seeker Mthokozisi Zondo attempted to unlawfully take the child at an Argos store in Cardiff city centre on February 12 this year.

The 28-year-old, of Westlee Flats, Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff has denied one charge of attempted abduction and had claimed he was just being friendly to the girl.

But a jury of six men and six women today found Zondo guilty of the charge. Zondo is expected to be sentenced later Friday.

After the verdict Zondo's barrister Leuan Rees said Zondo was a man of hitherto good character.

Prosecutor Sue Ferrier said that efforts by Zondo to claim asylum had failed.

Judge Philip Richards said the offence was so serious that only one form of punishment appeared appropriate.

The child’s mother was on a shopping trip with other family members when the incident happened.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her daughter, told Cardiff Crown Court she heard the defendant whispering: “Come on, come on,” and he grabbed the child’s hand.

She said her daughter had been about five feet away from her looking at a makeup display.

“I grabbed her other arm,” she told the jury. “I could feel him pulling her and tugging her.” She said she pulled the “screaming” child towards her and she felt “numb” and “shocked”.

The mother reported the matter to the store and the police were alerted immediately.

Mrs Ferrier said the incident would have been “terrifying” for the child – and said it was “sheer good fortune” that the child’s mother became aware there was a stranger so close to her daughter.

But Zondo said that he had not intended to abduct the child and was being friendly with her in line with what he claimed were African customs.

He told the court on Wednesday: "I was heading towards the exit when I walked past her.

"I just bent down and said 'hello, hello, hello' and I shook her hand.

"I was just being friendly - God is my witness."

He said it was characteristic of Africans to be friendly to children, adding: "Whenever I hear anything about child abuse it hurts me because I have a son of my own."
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