Durban - A three-year-old girl was rescued by authorities and reunited with her family this week, after she was kidnapped from an Islamic school in Springs, Gauteng, by a woman who allegedly posed as a child-minder.
After the child was kidnapped last Thursday, the parents, who are believed to be Ethiopian nationals, received a ransom demand “for millions” of rands, regional police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said.
She said authorities, which consisted of various civil and private officials, were drawn to an area near the Eastgate Mall, near Johannesburg.
The suspects used two vehicles for the exchange of the girl and the money, but were caught by police shortly after the ransom was picked up on Monday, Mathe said.
“At about 8pm n Monday evening, the Task Team led a multidisciplinary team comprising of various disciplines in the SAPS including the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) Gauteng Traffic Police, Netcare 911 and various security companies to an area near Eastgate Mall where ransom money was meant to have been paid to secure the safe return of the little girl.
“As soon as the suspects arrived to collect the ransom money, the team swooped in on the four suspects and rescued the little girl,” Mathe said.
Two unlicensed firearms and two vehicles were also seized by police.
IOL asked the colonel if the school had confirmed with the parents before releasing the child to the woman posing as the minder, but Mathe said she was unsure of that.
We then called Islamic schools in the Springs area, only to find out from sources that the incident supposedly took place after a private madrassa class. This is an after school class which children attend to study Islam.
National commissioner of police, Fannie Masomela, commended the team's work on safely reuniting the child with her family.
"Well done to the team who have ensured the safe return of the little girl, well and alive. The team’s sleepless nights have definitely paid off. We also thank our stakeholders for playing their part in ensuring that together we close in on these suspects and apprehend those who are behind this crime.
“This should definitely serve as a deterrent to others who are involved in such criminality. We are surely closing in on these syndicates, their days are indeed numbered,” General Masomela said.
The suspects will appear before the Springs Magistrate’s court on Thursday and will face charges of kidnapping and possession of an unlicensed firearm.