Hunt goes on after Vic toddler’s death

Police are yet to make an arrest over the abduction of a toddler later found dead in a Melbourne creek.


Detectives spent Sunday scouring the crime scene at Heidelberg West before they started searching a home where Sanaya Sahib and her mother had been staying.

The mother of 15-month-old Sanaya told police her little girl was snatched out of her pram at Olympic Park about 10am on Saturday by a man who smelt of alcohol and was not wearing shoes.

Sofina Nikat, 22, told officers she was pushed to the ground by the man, who ran off with her daughter towards a nearby shopping centre.

Ms Nikat gave chase but when she realised she couldn’t catch him, she raced home to alert police.

She never saw the face of the man, who is described as being of African appearance, between 20 and 30 years old and about 1.8m tall.

The toddler’s body was found in Darebin Creek just before 3am on Sunday by a family of four who had seen social media posts about her disappearance and wanted to help.

The family, who had once lost a child who had later been found, had spent the night looking for Sanaya.

Sheraz Sahib, Sanaya’s grandfather, publicly thanked the family, locals and authorities on Sunday.

He said Sanaya’s relatives were in total shock, but receiving lots of support.

“My granddaughter Sanaya will be missed by us all,” he told reporters.

“She was a beautiful child who has been taken from us too soon.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said it wasn’t known how long the toddler’s body had been in the water.

“It is obviously extremely concerning for Victoria Police if this is a random abduction,” he told reporters.

“We need to be careful, alert, given what’s taken place at this present time, but we’ll wait and see how the investigation unfolds.”

He appealed for anyone who saw the incident, the child or her blue and yellow pram to come forward.

It’s believed Sanaya and her mother, from Mitcham, were staying with family in Heidelberg West near the former 1956 Olympic Village following a separation from the tot’s father.

Both parents have been helping police and are said to be extremely distressed.

Police retraced Ms Nikat’s steps on Sunday and conducted line searches in bushland near the creek.

Tribute flowers and teddy bears have been left at the scene.

Neighbour Melynda Smith said of Sanaya, “She was happy, she was well looked after.”

A post-mortem examination was to be carried out on Sunday night.