Cape Town - On the day that Abirah Dekhta’s father, Aslam, got to see for the first time the men who allegedly kidnapped and threatened to harm his daughter, he heard a count of trafficking in persons was among new charges they faced.
The seven men, some in their late and 30s and 40s, made their second appearance in a packed Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Initially, they only faced charges of kidnapping and extortion, however, State prosecutor Adnaan Gelderbloem informed the court that they submitted a Schedule 6 under which the accused will be prosecuted.
He said they were also charged under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) for affiliation with a criminal gang.
“Accused two is charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances and the rest are also charged with kidnapping alternatively trafficking in persons, attempted extortion and Contravention of the Cybercrime Act,” said Gelderbloem.
When Gelderbloem informed the court about the charges, some of the accused shook their heads as if they were in disbelief or surprised just like members of the public attending the case.
Video: Abirah accused charged with human trafficking by Zintle Mdaka
Eight-year-old Abirah was abducted last month when she was in her lift club vehicle waiting for another Rylands Primary School pupil.
She was snatched and placed in a Nissan double-cab bakkie that fled with her.
The girl was found in a shack in Joe Nzinga Gqabi Street, Khayelitsha, where accused 1 to 4 were allegedly inside the shack and accused 5, 6 and 7 were “guarding the premises outside”.
When the child was found, her father revealed in an interview that the accused had threatened to cut his daughter's finger, and they were also going to sell her somewhere if he didn't pay a ransom.
Family friend and spokesperson, Imdaad Harris, said: “The family is still receiving counselling. We will continue to come to court and we have started an online petition with more than 10 000 signatures calling for bail to be denied for the accused.”
Magistrate Goolam Bawa postponed the matter to December 13 to give all the accused men a chance to get an attorney, as they have requested, and to discuss a bail application date.