Another suspect arrested in Joshlin Smith case, initial suspect speaks out

Phumza Sigaqa charges withdrawn. Picture: Supplied

Phumza Sigaqa charges withdrawn. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 18, 2024


A 32-year-old woman, believed to be a friend of those arrested for Joshlin Smith’s disappearance, is expected to make her first appearance in Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

This comes as initial suspect Phumza Sigaqa, who was freed after charges of human trafficking and kidnapping were dropped against her, said her life has been turned upside down.

Police confirmed on Sunday that the new suspect had been arrested and charged.

“Be advised that a 32-year-old woman will appear in Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court (today) in connection with the disappearance of six-year-old Joshlin Smith.”

Sigaqa spoke to the Cape Argus from a relative’s house on Sunday, saying she was forced to flee her home with her children, as they feared for their safety.

Sigaqa was arrested on March 5 along with Joshlin’s mother, Racquel “Kelly” Smith, her partner Jacquen Appollis and Steveno van Rhyn.

The kidnapping and human trafficking charges were dropped against Sigaqa last week, the State saying it had no evidence linking her to the crimes.

“I was accused of being a sangoma, but I have never been one. I have been vilified because of misinformation. I still don’t understand why the police arrested me in this case,” Sigaqa said.

“I don’t feel good. I suffered at the hands of the police. I have had to leave everything I have because I fear for my safety. I have been released from jail, but I still don’t feel like a free woman. I am still very much in prison.”

Today marks a month since Joshlin went missing from her Diazville home in Saldanha Bay – and there is still no sign of her.

Smith, Appollis and Van Rhyn were expected back in court on May 13.

A mother-of-three, Sigaqa was accused of being a sangoma, which she and her family members have denied.

The Middelpos woman, a neighbour of Joshlin’s family, recalled the night the police allegedly forced their way into her home.

“They woke my children up, as it was around 11pm when they picked me up. They ransacked my place, searching everywhere.

“I kept asking: ‘What happened?’ They just told me to take the kids outside for about an hour. They asked my husband and me to go back inside while they searched.

“They took us at about 2am to the police station, where I was assaulted by two female officers and a male one.”

Sigaqa said she was tortured and, after some time had passed, the police called Appollis and Van Rhyn into the interrogation room.

“The first one in was Boeta (Jacquen). He said they gave the child to me, and the second one echoed him.

“That is a bald-face lie. I was at home when I saw Kelly and Boeta and Joshlin. They had a gas tank and they walked past. Kelly greeted me, and that was before 4pm that Monday.

“When they came back, they didn’t have the child with them. I didn’t ask (them about this) because no one knew she would be reported missing.

“I only heard when the child disappeared that she was seen next to a shop in Marikana.”

She said her arrest had split the community along racial lines.

The mother says her children are still traumatised and have been taken out of school.