The police have cautioned schools not to sow panic after claims of an attempted kidnapping of a toddler near a Bothasig school on Wednesday proved to be incorrect.
This at a time when the Western Cape Education Department, schools, parents and pupils are on high alert following the abduction of a third city pupil while on her way to school in the southern suburbs last week, which ended with her being raped and dropped off after a few hours.
The bodies of 9-year-old Previledge Mabvongwe, from Kraaifontein, who had been in school uniform, and a 2-year-old boy, Oyingcwele Zokufa, from Nyanga, were also found this week.
Wolraad Woltemade Primary principal Elaine Kesten sent out a newsletter to parents on Wednesday regarding an "attempted kidnapping" close to the school, which has since spread like wildfire on social media.
But the police confirmed on Wednesday that there was "no attempted kidnapping. It is suspected the occupants of the White Opel Corsa might have wanted to rob the domestic worker as she was wearing nice jewellery. At no time was there an attempt to snatch a child".
Commenting on the newsletter circulated by the Wolraad Woltemade Primary principal, the police said in a statement today: "The SAPS has noted the letters circulated and schools are engaged in order not to create panic in the community."
In the letter, Kesten stated: "At approximately 14h15 on 29.08.2108, one of our parents who live (sic) in Adam Tas Street in Bothasig, came to the school to report the attempted kidnapping of a 2/3 year old boy, a few hundred meters (sic) away from our school.
"He informed me that the little boy and his nanny, who he brought with him to the office, were en route to the school to collect his sister, who is a learner at our school. Apparently, on their way to school, a white Opal (sic) Corsa stopped next to them with two black males in the car. They grabbed the child from the nanny and tried to force him into the vehicle.
"During this time, while she was still fighting to prevent the apparent kidnapping of the boy, this parent came to assist her. The suspects then allegedly jumped back into the car and sped off.
"According to this parent, the modus operandi of the attackers included a coloured male who was on foot, roving the area for a likely victim.
"I immediately requested all available staff members to assist me to gather all children outside of the school premises, back onto the school grounds to wait for their parents and/or transport. The teachers escorted the learners to the entrance of the foyer to ensure their safety and where we have cameras installed to monitor them too.
"At the same time we contacted the police to report the incident and we also sent out an emergency SMS to all parents, as well."
Kessler told the Cape Times today: "In the letter that I sent out, at the back of the letter, I put the police statement after their investigation. What the lady told the police is different to what the parent that assisted the lady told me in the office.
"And the lady that he assisted was with me in the office. Now you find two different stories, but I went on what the parent told me when he came into the office with the lady.
"She is the nanny of one of the learners of our school and the child that they apparently wanted to kidnap is the 2- to 3-year-old brother of a learner at the school. And the school parent who came to the school office with the nanny and the child said he assisted the lady in the road because there was an attempted kidnapping.
"So when the police went to the nanny, it was a whole different story, so I don't know what is happening. What we did is to try and gather all our children to keep them safe and I alerted the parents because that is all that I could do at that time.
"I don't know why the nanny gave the police a different story to the one the parent gave when she was in the office with him when he explained what had happened. He said he was the one that prevented them from taking the little one out of the pram and driving away in a Corsa.
"I believed that parent when he came in here because she was with him. Why didn't the nanny then say to him, 'No, that isn't what happened. It was just an attempted robbery and not a kidnapping'."