Cape Town -
It has been three days since a Khayelitsha girl went missing on Christmas morning and her desperate mother is pleading for her safe return.
Before five-year-old Lilitha “Nini” Mgwebi had the chance to don her new Christmas clothes, which still had the price tags attached, she was allegedly snatched a few metres from her house in Khayelitsha’s Green Point informal settlement.
After giving her daughter breakfast around 9am, Abongile Mgwebi, 28, said her little girl rushed outside to play with her friends.
“She wasn’t even washed yet so I just put some clothes on her, gave her pap and told her she must hurry back so I can wash her and dress her up for Christmas,” her mother said.
A short while later a neighbour told Mgwebi her daughter was playing at a tap around the corner.
But an hour later, the mother became worried when her sister’s son, who had also been with the children, returned home without Lilitha.
“I asked him where she was and he said she’s still at the tap and that’s when I went to look for her. We searched the area, even used loudspeakers but nothing.”
The family also scoured the nearby veld, known to be a “dumping ground” for bodies. At 6pm Mgwebi went to the police station to report the child missing.
Unable to fight back tears, Mgwebi complained that the police search only started the following day.
“They just took my statement and didn’t even go look for her. Maybe she would have been found by now,” said the shattered mother.
Although she fears the worst, Mgwebi has begged the perpetrators to return the child.
“Whoever took my child, please bring back my Nini.”
Neighbour Nellie Venge said after hearing the news she couldn’t enjoy her Christmas Day.
“She was such a kind child, always smiling. Now you can’t even trust your own children outside. I just hope they bring her home alive.”
Provincial police spokesman Captain FC Van Wyk said a search had been launched to find her.
Lilitha was last seen dressed in pink trousers and a long-sleeved pink-and-white striped golf shirt.
Police want anyone with information to call investigating officer Sergeant Bernard Mouton on 082 522 2884 or 021 360 2308, or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.
Meanwhile, police are looking into the identity of the body of a girl found on Thursday in Grassy Park following the disappearance of six-year-old Jennifer Williams.
She disappeared near her home in Parkwood in Grassy Park last Thursday morning. She was at an informal gaming arcade in Parker’s Walk.
Jennifer was last seen in a two-piece yellow suit, patterned with black dots.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stop on 086 001 0111, or investigating officer Warrant Officer Juanita Kleinsmith on 021 700 3900/071 604 8358.
* Meanwhile the search continues for a Mitchells Plain girl, Kauthar Bobbs, 6, who vanished while playing with friends in Freedom Park in October.
The grandmother was arrested on the eve of Kauthar’s sixth birthday.
Van Wyk said the investigation continues.
Missing Children SA said that about 10 children remain missing in the Western Cape.
This year alone, 153 children were reported missing while police reported 115 were found.
The organisation said between May 2011 and April this year, the highest number of cases reported to their organisation was in December, with 66 cases; October, with 53 cases; and February this year, with 53. In that period, 12 of the missing children had been found dead.
A report by the Missing Persons Bureau said a child goes missing every six hours in the country.