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Police have warned residents of several Durban communities to stop spreading a hoax rumour that claims children are being abducted for ritual purposes.
The Daily News received calls from the public on Thursday, with many women worried about their children and the supposed lack of response from the police.
One woman from uMlazi said she knew of a mother whose newborn was taken from her at gunpoint when they went to a hospital on Sunday.
She claimed men in a white taxi and a red car had approached the mother.
However, police said on Thursday the claim appeared to be untrue because there was no record of such a case.
It now appears that this and other claims of missing children could be a hoax based on the real-life drama in Nigeria, where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted by the militant group, Boko Haram.
KwaZulu-Natal government leaders have also condemned the unfounded rumours, saying they had created fear and panic.
“I have been following these reports and I must say that I am shocked that people can start such rumours,” said Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi.
She said the rumours had been spread in the south Durban communities of uMlazi, Folweni and KwaMakhutha. But Thusi urged parents of missing children to report their concerns to police.
There were also claims of various schools in uMlazi being closed early on Thursday, but these were untrue because all the schools contacted confirmed there were no missing children and that classes were not disrupted.
Provincial police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said the hoax was wasting their resources.
A recent genuine case of a missing child had a tragic outcome. The Daily News reported two weeks ago that 12-year-old Wonderboy Gcwensa, of KwaDabeka, was found dead and mutilated.
Wonderboy and two other boys from the area had been missing for more than two weeks.
His body was found in the bush with his genitals, eyes, intestines and tongue missing. The two other children are yet to be found.