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Johannesburg - A 12-year-old boy kidnapped by a hiker has been found unharmed in Joburg – 300km away from his home.
Kidnapped in Newcastle on Sunday, Marcel Blandin de Chalain was found in Roodepoort after two days on the road with his 23-year-old kidnapper.
On Wednesday morning he was reunited with his parents after the kidnapper’s father called the police.
Marcel’s joyful mother, Adri, said on Wednesday morning the boy was still too traumatised to talk about his ordeal.
“I am not even asking him questions as I want him to relax. He only said he did not know where he was and was not aware of what was happening when (the suspect) changed the registration number of the bakkie. He is now scared of strangers. I am just happy that he is back.”
The boy’s ordeal started on Thursday when the man showed up at her gate, saying he was in the area for an interview but did not have a place to stay.
“I took him in because he was decently dressed,” Adri said.
But the suspect disappeared with her son on Sunday, driving 300km with him from KwaZulu-Natal to Joburg. The suspect was last spotted with Marcel at a filling station in Newcastle and then the two were reported to have been seen in Bloemfontein.
Police received information late on Tuesday afternoon that the suspect had arrived at his father’s house in Roodepoort, with the stolen bakkie and the missing child.
After his father confronted him, the suspect was shown various Facebook updates and messages regarding Marcel’s abduction and, realising he was in trouble, he fled, leaving Marcel at his father’s home, along with the vehicle.
The suspect’s father immediately contacted the investigating officer, Captain Flip Claassen, and together with Warrant Officer Musa Mtshali, they raced to Roodepoort to fetch Marcel.
Claassen, who had travelled from KZN to pick the boy up in Joburg after he had been found, said the suspect took the boy under the pretext that he was going to dump rubble at a dumping site.
He said Marcel’s father, Ricardo, collects people’s rubble for them at their homes and dumps it for them at a cost.
The bakkie he uses is his brother’s.
However, the suspect offered to help him on Sunday afternoon and Marcel went with him.
Instead of dumping the rubble, the suspect is believed to have driven from KZN, begged for money for fuel and toll gates along the way, and also picked up hitchhikers whose clothes he then stole.
He reportedly told Marcel that he was scared, and started driving to Ladysmith.
From there he is believed to have sold tools that were in the car.
Along the way he picked up hitchhikers and drove to the Free State. When they arrived in Bloemfontein, the male hitchhiker, who was with his wife, allegedly asked the suspect to take him to take them to a mall as his wife needed to see a doctor.
The suspect dropped the couple at the Mimosa Mall and when the couple went inside, he allegedly left, taking their belongings with him.
They have since opened a case of theft against him. Claassen said when Marcel was found, he was barefoot and wearing oversized clothes which are believed to have belonged to the two hitchhikers.
Claassen said the police had not interviewed Marcel at length yet.
“He is a minor so we have to be careful as to how we go about doing that,” he said.