Conflicting details during police interviews about the alleged kidnapping of baby Siwaphiwe Mbambo are what eventually led to her mother and two others being arrested for the crime, police said on Sunday.
"Too many inconsistencies emerged during the interviews, especially in terms of the initial reporting to the police of how the incident developed," said national police spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer.
"Information generated from the interviews became critical in the setting up of a roadblock in Mariannhill in the early hours of [Sunday] morning."
A car was stopped and the baby was discovered inside with a man and a woman, unharmed.
"Three people, including the 34-year-old biological mother of the baby, another woman, and a man, have been arrested and are in custody."
The baby has been placed under the care of the Department of Social Development.
Initially, the baby was reported to have been taken in a car hijacking at a Durban shopping centre on Friday. She was in the back seat of a white Toyota Yaris which was then reported as stolen from her mother at gunpoint.
A large-scale search was conducted for the missing baby and a reward of R250 000 was offered for any information that would lead to her safe return.
"The South African Police Service invested a lot in this case, including members working overtime, the use of vehicles and aircraft which impacted negatively on the availability of police resources in the fight against priority crimes," De Beer said.
As such, the use of police resources by people "with selfish motives" could not be tolerated, De Beer added.
A special prosecutor was appointed to the case on Sunday morning.
"Those who have been arrested and are in custody will appear in court soon."
Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane expressed his gratitude that the baby had been rescued from "a dubious situation to say the least".
"We thank our members, all other law enforcement agencies and security companies who stepped up to assist, as well as the civic minded members of the public who joined forces to assist in the search.
"We are a wonderful, caring society and it is disappointing when people take advantage of their fellow South Africans' trust and belief in humanity. False claims of crimes which have an entire nation and beyond in a state of sorrow and anxiety, should be condemned," he said. -- News24