South Africa: Two in Court for Child Kidnapping

Two suspects are expected to appear at the Emalahleni Magistrate's Court today, following their arrest on Monday for allegedly kidnapping an 11-year-old girl.

The South African Police Service Office of the Provincial Commissioner in Mpumalanga said the suspects, aged 42 and 27 years, were arrested on Monday for the alleged kidnapping on 30 November 2019, in Vosman, near Witbank.

According to reports, the girl was made to believe that her mother had sent people to come and fetch her, as the mother was not at home at the time of the incident.

Other family members present at the time did not suspect anything, as the men behaved convincingly and the girl was comfortable leaving with them.

"The girl was kidnapped and the family did not hear of her whereabouts until the next day, 1 December 2019, when the suspects called the mother to demand ransom amounting to R250 000, in exchange for the child.

"The suspects indicated that by then, 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.

"The 27-year-old mother, who was desperate [for the return of] her daughter, informed the other family members about the call that she received from the suspects and police were immediately contacted," the police said.

Out of desperation, the family drove to Nelspruit to check if they could verify the information provided by the suspects.

"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 to Vosman and found the little girl unharmed. Police were informed about the developments and they intensified their investigation," the police said.

A preliminary probe has since revealed that there is a close member of the family that is involved in this saga.

"Police cannot rule out the possibility of adding more charges to the suspects."

Mpumalanga Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma, has condemned the kidnapping of the child.

"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 vulnerable children and use them to demand cash. We welcome their arrest and hope that justice will be served," Zuma said.

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