SEARCH: Melissa Kanguya, a Grade 2 pupil from !Xhunkwesa Combined School in the !Xun and Khwe community of Platfontein, went missing on Thursday afternoon and police, family and community members were still searching for her yesterday.

Kimberley - After three days of frantic searching, the family of an eight-year-old Platfontein girl, who went missing after fleeing alleged rapists, has given up hope of finding her alive.
Melissa Kanguya, a Grade 2 pupil from !Xhunkwesa Combined School in the !Xun and Khwe community of Platfontein, just outside Kimberley, went missing on Thursday afternoon after apparently trying to escape from three minor boys who allegedly attempted to rape her.

She was last seen by her mother, Mariana Kanguya, at around 2pm on Thursday afternoon, when she arrived home after school and changed out of her school uniform into a blue skirt and pink top - the same clothes she was wearing when she went missing, according to her mother.

“After getting changed she left the house barefoot and went to play with some friends at the dam. At around 6pm one child came back and told me that Melissa had run away after being terrorised by three teenage boys from the community. The child told me that two of the boys had raped two children who were with Melissa; and the third boy was chasing Melissa with a dog, in an attempt to apparently catch her and also rape her. The child further told me that the boys had apparently been sniffing glue while raping the children,” Mariana said yesterday.

She added that while community members and the police had been searching for the missing girl frantically since Thursday evening, they were now losing hope of finding her alive.

“While I have the unsettling feeling that she is dead by now, it doesn’t matter anymore, I just want my baby girl back ... even if it is just her body,” Mariana told the DFA yesterday afternoon, adding that she had “no more tears left to cry”.

Several of Melissa’s aunts echoed Mariana’s sentiments and stated that it would be “impossible” for the small child, dressed lightly and not even wearing any shoes, to survive even one night outside in the freezing cold conditions experienced since Thursday.

“While we continue to pray for a miracle, we have lost hope of finding her alive,” they said.

As part of the search operations, police officials were yesterday seen with two young children who escorted them to the place where they had last seen Melissa before she ran off in the direction of Barkly West, after being chased by one of the teenage boys.

By late yesterday afternoon she had not yet been found.

A spokesperson for the family of the missing girl, Fanister Moyo, added that the three boys suspected of being involved in the alleged rapes and disappearance of Melissa had been taken for questioning by police.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi, yesterday confirmed that a case of rape has been opened at Kimberley police station following the incident.

“Three boys aged 14, 15 and 16 have been put in a place of safety after they allegedly raped a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. Police are still out searching for the missing girl and request that anyone who may have information regarding the whereabouts of the little girl to please contact Warrant Officer Neliva Lötter on 082 446 7756 or 060 972 3160 or alternatively the Crime Stop Line 08600 10111. All information received will be treated as strictly confidential,” Mooi said.

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