Johannesburg - CCTV footage of two women walking out of a pharmacy with twins in a trolley – when their mother had turned her back on them for just a few seconds – has gone viral.
The attempted kidnapping of the 4-year-old brother and sister took place on Monday afternoon at the Zambezi Junction mall in Pretoria.
Crime-fighting organisation eBlockwatch posted the footage of the women walking off with the children on its Facebook page.
Founder Andre Snyman said they have had complaints from the public in the past about people trying to snatch small children while the adults were shopping.
He had always thought they were hoax, he said.
But, this time the video footage showed this did, in fact, happen.
The twins’ father, Dale Ribbink, posted two CCTV videos on his Facebook page.
They seem to show that four people, two men and two women, were working together.
In the first video, a man and woman are seen harassing a mother at the till.
The woman, Chantelle Lewis, is holding her 2-year-old son on the counter.
They get into an argument and the pair leave the store, only to come back in and grab the trolley with the children in it.
Lewis said she fetched her son from school and went to the pharmacy because he was sick.
At the till, she noticed two people standing near her, she said.
“I felt a hand in my pocket and my cellphone and wallet were in there, so I asked the woman what she thought she was doing,” Lewis said.
At first the woman didn’t answer her, but when Lewis asked again, the tall woman started shouting at her in a confrontational manner, asking: “What are you to do?”
Lewis said she told the woman to leave her alone and pointed to the camera, saying she would report her as a pickpocket.
She said the pair left the store, only to come back a few minutes later.
“I think they wanted to distract me, to get me into an argument so that they could grab my son,” she said.
Ribbink said his wife was looking for nasal spray.
She bent down to fetch the medicine and when she looked up, a woman had walked out of the shop with their children.
“My wife ran after her and when she asked the woman what she was doing, the woman said something about wanting something in the trolley. She had a big smile on her face,” Ribbink said.
He said the woman kept her hand on the trolley and wouldn’t let go, so she had to pull away the trolley.
“Her reaction was to go back into the shop and only inside did she realise what had just happened,” he said.
Ribbink went to the shopping centre the next day to get the footage and to open a case of child theft with the police.
“They actually took the children out of the shop, so it was an attempted kidnapping,” he said.
Ribbink said he learnt that two of the suspects were arrested the next day at the Fruit & Veg City in the same centre for allegedly stealing a cellphone.