Pretoria - Getting a call that your daughter has gone missing is devastating, but Neo Nkoane is thousands of kilometres away in Sudan serving her country while police and family search for her 18-month-old daughter who has allegedly been kidnapped.
Now Nkoane and the rest of her family have issued an appeal for the safe return of her only daughter.
Ronewa Matshinyatsimbi went missing from her home early on New Year’s Eve while her mother’s partner and two other children slept in other rooms of the family home at the Dunnottar Military Base in Nigel.
It is believed that a young woman – who claimed to be a nanny looking for work – may have taken the brown-eyed toddler after being allowed to sleep in the same room as Ronewa on the night when she arrived.
Ronewa’s mother is expected to return home by Sunday.
Her six-month deployment in Sudan was cut short after she learned of her daughter’s disappearance from a military chaplain on Tuesday. Her brother Tumi Nkoane, who lives in Pretoria, has had contact with her.
On Thursday, he told the Pretoria News that Neo was admitted to hospital to be monitored after being “very emotional about all of this”.
It is believed that Neo and her partner were looking for a nanny to care for her two children, Ronewa and a four-year-old boy, before her deployment.
After failing to find someone suitable, it was decided the partner would look after the two children and his own six-year-old son.
Previously, Neo’s mother had cared for the children while she had been on military assignments.
“Her partner brought about new changes and decided the children would no longer stay with my mother,” Tumi Nkoane said.
“That’s why they looked for a nanny but couldn’t find one. It was decided he would look after the children as he was unemployed.”
Neo was deployed on December 14 and all seemed to be going well until New Year’s Eve.
Springs police confirmed they were investigating a case of kidnapping.
According to a police source close to the investigation, the partner claimed he had received a private number call from an unknown woman claiming she head learnt the family was looking for a nanny.
“She told him she would arrive from Lesotho later that day, and did.
“He picked her up and took her to his house. When she arrived she claimed she was tired. She slept in the room with the toddler,” the source said.
When the partner awoke in the morning, the woman and toddler were gone.
“He opened a case and we are busy with intelligence operations into this investigation,” police said.
It is unclear at this stage what could have happened to Ronewa.
No ransom has been demanded and no contact has been made with the family about the little girl.
“We don’t know where she is or who has her,” said Nkoane.
“Currently there are so many pieces to this puzzle that is not making sense. We just want our little girl back.
“My sister is taking this very hard.
“We appeal to anyone, please, who spots her to please call. To whoever has her, please bring her back, or just call and we will come and fetch her.”
The family have made posters with a picture of the toddler in the hope that someone will spot her. Anyone with information can phone Warrant Officer Mjoli at 073 991 3351 or 011 737 9638.