The case of missing Amahle Thabethe remains a guessing game and a matter of hope and prayer until hard evidence proves otherwise, say the police.
Thabethe, who should be celebrating her 12th birthday with her family in November this year, went missing on April 4, 2019 outside her Tsakane home in Ekurhuleni. She was 8. It’s been almost three years since her disappearance and there have been no leads in the investigation.
Friends close to the family are seeking answers from the SAPS and are losing hope of finding out if Amahle is alive and where she is. They do, however, believe she could be held by someone known to her.
A friend and social media activist, Thobeka Gigaba, and other concerned citizens have created a social media page named #BringBackAmahle in a bid to keep her name alive. Gigaba said it’s been a difficult time for the family as they haven’t received any feedback from the SAPS.
“We have had more than 4 or 5 occasions whereby SAPS authorities including those who are at the forefront of leading the case, did not respond to our letters of concern. Nokulunga, the mother of the missing victim, has uttered grievances whereby she would recall lengthy periods of not being updated on the case of her child, Amahle Thabethe,” said Gigaba.
Their attempts to keep up to date with the case have been futile.
“Our last communication was noted by Captain Baloyi on August 19, 2020, which stated that as third parties, we are not granted the opportunity to hear the update of missing child Amahle due to the sensitive feedback restricted to family only. It is very frustrating, all we need are answers,” she said.
SAPS section commander of media relations in Gauteng, Colonel Dimakatso Sello, said: “The case is being investigated by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) and the police are following up on all the leads that are received. At this stage, there are no developments.”
Criminologist and researcher at the University of South Africa (Unisa) Professor Anni Hesselink said children were the most vulnerable members of society.
“Unfortunately, we live in a normless and broken society where adults prey on the most helpless and vulnerable of society. Children have become easy targets and ‘commodities’ used for revenge (by lovers/boyfriends, estranged partners/spouses to ‘get’ to the mother or to punish a parent),” said Hesselink.
According to Hesselink, factors that play a role include poverty, unemployment, greediness (especially when money is involved), deviant sexual behaviour, corruption, religion, politics (for example, the abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria by Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram), lack of guardianship and the opportunity to commit a crime.
“The kidnapping of children seems to be on the increase in South Africa, especially with the spate of recent media reports. Children are defenceless against adults and accordingly, they are easy and vulnerable targets. The kidnapping of a child and possible harm to a child cuts to the core of any normal and conventional adult and parent – parents will do anything to get their children back. It causes severe trauma for the children, parents, family members, the community and for society as a whole,” she said.