‘Meddling may have hampered search for Joslin Smith’

Joslin Smith was last seen on February 19 at her home in the Middelpos Informal Settlement in Diazville, Saldanha. Picture: Supplied

Joslin Smith was last seen on February 19 at her home in the Middelpos Informal Settlement in Diazville, Saldanha. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 7, 2024


The Western Cape Missing Persons Unit believes valuable time may have been lost due to interference in the search for missing Joslin Smith, 6.

While police have not confirmed how many arrests have been made, the matter is expected to be heard in the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, according to police spokesperson Novela Potelwa.

Western Cape Missing Persons Unit director, Candice van der Rheede, said while arrests had been made, “it has taken too long after we were in the area to share intel with the police in the area”.

“There is still no sign of Joslin and we are heading for the third week now.

Information was shared with police and we requested for more experienced detectives but we were told there is no budget for that. I am happy that there is progress but sad for the circumstances under which that progress had to come.

We believe valuable time may have been lost if there was less interference because everyone wants to play detective and in future, the element of posting rewards for missing persons must be rethought,” said Van der Rheede.

Police had confirmed that four suspects – two men and two women aged between 26 and 34 – were taken in for questioning on Tuesday evening.

Potelwa said this formed part of an extensive investigation for the Grade 1 pupil who was last seen on February 19 at her home in the Middelpos Informal Settlement in Diazville, Saldanha.

“The investigation saw the team of detectives visiting several places within the West Coast town and interviewing several other persons. The search for Joslin brought individuals, NGOs, community activists, police officials, neighbourhood watches and representatives from different spheres of government together in the quest to find the missing girl. For days they searched and identified vast areas in Saldanha Bay. It is envisaged that as the investigation unfolds light will be shed as to her whereabouts or what happened to her,” said Potelwa.

Ward councillor Siyabulela Liwani said the community was grateful that the matter was at court.

“We will support the law enforcement agencies to do their work freely and without any unwanted interference.

We are urging the community to allow law enforcement agencies to do their work and for the investigation to be done in the best possible manner. So far we feel that the interference by certain elements may have been detrimental to the search but the ultimate goal is to find Joslin. A lot of information was shared with police so far and we have been assured that leads are being followed up. The law must take its course and everyone who is involved must face the full might of the law.

“Currently the community is upset that the disappearance case is being used by certain people for political gain and we ask them that we have to find the child should remain the focus, and put aside politics. We have to get justice for Joslin,” said Liwani.

According to information, Joslin’s mother Kelly Smith had left her in the care of her boyfriend, Jacquin Appolis. Appolis could not account for Joslin’s whereabouts upon the mother’s return home.

Large search parties followed, co-ordinated by the SAPS, the Saldanha community and the support of the City.

It has since been reported that Joslin may have been trafficked or sold. Patekile said detectives that had been working hard to find little Joslin were following up on this information.

He said as their investigation unfolded and intensified, more leads would be followed up in the hope of finding Joslin.

A large contingent of residents and community organisations are expected to gather at the court on Thursday.

Earlier this week, police urged for the responsible use of social media and confirmed they had bolstered search units. The public was urged to “refrain from spreading false information on social media and desist from recording the searches”.

Cape Times