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A seven-year-old pupil who was allegedly kidnapped by her biological father was found on Thursday.
Thanks to the quick thinking and prudent actions of a guest house owner in Mashishing (Lydenburg), Mpumalanga, who noticed “something off” about the couple who had checked into her guest house on Thursday, the man and his woman partner were stopped before they could take off with Pura Pahlo.
Pura’s elated foster father, Evans Andreou, said: “The landlady saw Pura’s pictures on Twitter and when Ray, the female and Pura checked in, she couldn’t help thinking [Pura] looked familiar.
“She called us and then we called the police about the tip-off and the police worked with the Lydenburg police to track them down.”
Pura was found unharmed at about 6.30am and Pahlo and his companion were arrested.
“We are immensely relieved. I cannot tell you how relieved we are. Pura’s sleeping in her own bed tonight,” Andreou said, exhaling deeply.
Gauteng police spokeswoman Pinky Tsinyane confirmed that Pura had been found on Thursday.
She could not immediately give details of the arrests.
The child was allegedly kidnapped by her father as her foster mother was dropping her off at a Pretoria school on Thursday.
Police said that when Pura and her foster mother, Kim Andreou, arrived at the Waterkloof Primary School at about 7am, they were approached by four men. The men told Kim they were arresting her for kidnapping.
Andreou said the men had “roughed up” his wife as they tried to force her out of the car.
They insisted they were going to arrest her. “They pretended to be police officers… They tried to cable-tie her and to pull her out of the car.
“While they were busy with her, the father allegedly went to the other side of the car and opened the passenger door.
“He took Pura, jumped into his car and drove off.”
Andreou said that the man had tried to take Pura away from them before.
The schoolgirl has been in the care of the Andreous for the past six years, during which time Pahlo’s attempts to get the child have failed.
The Andreous became foster parents when Pura’s biological parents were reportedly found to be incapable of taking care of her.
The chairman of the school governing body, Frank Thomaz, said the school had offered its pupils counselling.
The incident had taken place outside the school grounds and none of its security measures
had been breached.
Warrant Officer Annabel Middleton said Brooklyn police detained four men on Thursday on charges of assisting with the kidnapping and falsely presenting themselves as police officers.