Durban - The disappearance of three young Durban siblings who left home for school last Monday morning but never arrived, has left their parents paralysed with fear and despair.
The Luthuli trio - Mandisa, 12, in Grade 6, Siphiwe, 10, Grade 3, and Manake, 5, Grade R, had all left their Klaarwater home separately and taken different routes to their school, Mbaliyethu Primary.
There had been no word about what had happened to them, December Ndimande, their devastated father, told the Daily News on Sunday. He said the school was within walking distance of their home.
Ndimande, 39, said a missing persons report had been lodged at the Chatsworth police station.
He pleaded with anyone with information to contact the police.
“We went to school the following day (Tuesday) and asked the form teachers and principal about the whereabouts of the children. (They) said they had not seen them. They said they didn’t even arrive at school on Monday,” he said.
“On the day, the three did not leave together and used different routes to go to school, which is more puzzling as to how they could have all gone missing at the same time or on the same day.”
He said the two girls took one path from home, while the boy took another path, hoping he would meet his sisters along the way.
It is not known if the siblings met up. The father of four said the family had become worried when they realised that all the other children had returned from school on Monday.
“We asked their friends if they saw them at school and they said they had not seen them since the previous week.”
He said their mother, Thandi Luthuli, was not coping with the “nightmare”.
“As you can see she is not here. Our eldest child took her to see a doctor. She is not coping at all.”
Asked if any of the children had tendencies of going missing, Ndimande said this was unprecedented.
“We even asked our relatives in Mariannhill if the three were there. We have relentlessly looked everywhere - from the bushes in and around Welbedacht, checked with friends, checked with family everywhere and have found nothing.”
Ndimande said he did not want to hold anyone accountable for his children going missing because they did not have a gripe with anyone. “We are peaceful people, we have good relations with our neighbours and the community.”
“We do not wish this sort of dilemma on anyone,” he said.
A neighbour, Thokozani Dlamini, who has been a part of the search party looking for the children, said the community was very concerned about their well-being.
“We have children too. When something like this happens you can’t help but empathise with the parents, because this is a completely difficult situation.”
The father of two said crime was not rampant in Klaarwater and something of this nature was “freakish”.
Ward councillor, Phindile Zungu, said she was horrified when she heard about the disappearances. “We will co-operate with the police to make sure that we find the children. This is unusual.”
KZN Department of Education spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said: “We are shocked by this terrible incident. We will do what we can to find the children.”
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said they were continuing with the search.