According to KZN police spokesperson, Colonel Robert Netshiunda, the 43-year-old father reported that the girl was missing from the Esenembe area in Umhlali, north of Durban last week.
A massive search was launched for the 14-year-old girl after posters went viral, appealing to communities to help search for her.
Reaction Unit SA stated that the girl’s father contacted them, claiming that the Grade 7 girl was seen being forced into a sugar cane plantation by a man, believed to be a Malawian national.
Netshiunda said police deployed a Search and Rescue team to search for the little girl. She was found walking with a 23-year-old undocumented foreign national along Jabu Ngcobo Drive on Friday last week.
"The foreign national was also arrested. Police investigations have uncovered that the father opened a false case with the police because he knew of his child’s whereabouts and that she had left with the suspect voluntarily. It was also discovered that the girl did the same thing in December 2023 and the father was aware of the matter," Netshiunda said.
He said the the father also faces charges under the Finance Act for the wasteful usage of state resources.
"He will appear in the KwaDukuza Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. On the other hand, the 23-year-old suspect has been charged with statutory rape, as well as a charge of being in the country illegally," he said.