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Two people arrested for kidnapping adopted child

August 18, 1997

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Two people were arrested Monday in connection with the kidnapping of a South African baby who was adopted over the wishes of his biological father.

The boy, 20-month-old Timothy Funnel, was kidnapped in February from the home of his adoptive parents in Malawi. He was found alive three days later and returned to them.

Jennifer Marjorie Uys, 23, and Charles Mwandira, 26, were arrested in the northern suburb of Sandton and will be charged with conspiracy to kidnap, police spokeswoman Sharon Schutte said.

The child is the focus of a long legal case in South Africa over the rights of unmarried fathers.

Timothy’s biological father, Lawrie Fraser, fought for custody of his son since his former girlfriend, Adri Naude, put the child up for adoption soon after his birth.

Just before Timothy was kidnapped, Fraser won a ruling in Constitutional Court that allowed his custody battle to proceed. The court, the nation’s highest, ruled a South African law denying unmarried fathers any role in adoption decisions was unconstitutional.

Fraser has denied claims by the adoptive parents that he was involved in the kidnapping.

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