South Africa: Close Family Member Allegedly Involved in Kidnapping of Witbank Girl, 11, for R250k Ransom

A 42-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman are expected to appear in the Emalahleni Magistrate's Court on Wednesday after they were arrested on Monday for the kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl in the Vosman area, near Witbank.

According to police, the girl was made to believe that her mother had sent people to fetch her because the mother was not at home at the time, police spokesperson Colonel Donald Mdhluli said.

"The other members of the family never suspected that anything could [be] wrong [as] the girl was so excited and trusted the man who acted politely as well as convincingly.

"The girl was kidnapped [on November 30 last year] and the family did not hear of her whereabouts until the next day... when the suspects called the mother to demand ransom money amounting to R250 000 in exchange for the child. The suspects indicated by then that the child was in Nelspruit. The mother was also informed that she must not alert police about the kidnapping if she ever wanted to see her child again," Mdhluli said.

"The 27-year-old mother, who was desperately longing to see her daughter, informed family members about the call ... and police were immediately contacted. Police did not waste time with their investigation as the child was in a vulnerable situation in the hands of greedy and heartless people who [would] do anything to get money. Out of desperation, the family drove to Nelspruit to check if they could verify the information provided by the suspects.

Close family member

"Within a few hours after opening a case of kidnapping, the suspects became aware that they could be in trouble and they released the child and informed the mother that the child was [in] Vosman [and] not in Nelspruit as they claimed earlier. The family drove back again to Vosman and found the little girl unharmed. Police were informed about the developments and they intensified their investigation."

According to Mdhluli, a preliminary probe has since revealed that a close member of the family was allegedly involved in the kidnapping. Police cannot rule out the possibility of adding more charges.

Mpumalanga police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma has condemned the kidnapping and thanked police for putting the pair behind bars.

"The family is a social structure where children are nurtured and protected. This is an environment where children should feel safe. It is very disturbing when people take advantage of the vulnerable children and use them to demand cash. We welcome their arrest and hope that justice will be served," Zuma said.

Source: News24

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