US dad in court for girl’s abductionComment on this story
Pretoria - The biological father of a seven-year-old girl who was kidnapped on Wednesday briefly appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday along with five other suspects alleged to have been involved in her kidnapping.
Ray Pahlo, 42, a US citizen, was arrested on Thursday along with a Canadian woman, Jolen Elizabeth Ward, after police received information that they were at a Lydenburg guest house. Young Pura Pahlo was safely returned to her foster parents shortly afterwards.
Four Zimbabwean nationals, Anton Marumbwa, Kaunda Shanduka, Nigel Munetsa and Langton Garinga, were arrested on Wednesday shortly after the young girl was kidnapped outside Waterkloof Primary School in Pretoria.
The accused face charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap and child abuse. Pahlo faces an additional charge of failure to comply with a court order relating to the child.
It is alleged that Marumbwa, Shanduka, Munetsa and Garinga approached the young girl’s foster mother as she was dropping her off at school. The four apparently posed as police officers and told the foster mother that she was being arrested for kidnapping.
They tried to force her out of her car and threatened to tie her up with cable ties. This was when Pahlo and Ward allegedly went to the passenger side of the vehicle, grabbed Pura and sped off.
Pretoria News earlier reported that the Zimbabweans had been promised R5 000 each for their role.
The court heard that officials from the US embassy had been approached to assist with confirming Pahlo’s status in the country, as well as to find out if he had other convictions or outstanding warrants.
Pahlo, who was clearly concerned that his human rights were being violated, addressed magistrate Maryke de la Rey, asking if the proceedings were being recorded as public or private, and what his rights regarding bail were.
De la Rey then explained the court proceedings to him. He said he did not understand to which she replied: “The legal system here might be different from the one you know. This legal system is applicable here, and in our system you can only be considered for bail if certain criteria are met.”
She added that he was arrested on suspicion of contravening certain child laws and that it was on that suspicion that he had been arrested and was now appearing in court on the charges.
The case was postponed to December 14 for confirmation of legal status and all the accused will remain in custody.
Pretoria News Weekend