Five Ekurhuleni families were forced to pay a collective ransom R11 500 for the release of their kidnapped children. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
At least five abducted children were returned unharmed to their homes after their parents paid ransoms via eWallet in three separate incidents in Ekurhuleni.

The cases of abduction and extortion were reported in three days on December 1, 2 and 3.

Ekurhuleni North cluster police spokesperson Constable Zukiswa Mgijima urged parents to keep an eye on their children and to report suspicious activities in their communities.

One of the parents told The Star on Thursday that her six-year-old son disappeared outside their Clayville home in Olifantsfontein after returning from church.

“I rushed outside when I was informed that my child was taken by unknown people travelling in a car. I was late because the car had already disappeared.

“The kidnappers left a note, saying they wanted a ransom of R15 000. Their instructions were simple. They also said that we should not contact the police, but we did,” said the mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the boy.

She said she had worked with hostage negotiators to ensure the safe return of her son.

“We managed to raise R2 000 and paid it to the kidnappers via eWallet and my son was dropped off at KFC in Kaalfontein (about 10km from Clayville).

“I was lucky. Most of the time, children who are kidnapped do not return home, and when they do, they are harmed or raped. My son is fine,” said the mother.

Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane expressed concern about the escalating number of kidnappings.

She encouraged parents to be cautious following the three incidents of child abduction and extortion reported.

“In the first incident, a 17-year-old boy was kidnapped on December 1 in Kromiet Street, Croydon. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of R10 000. Working closely with hostage negotiators, the family managed to pay an amount of R5 000 through an eWallet transaction. The child was robbed of his cellphone and an amount of R450 before being dropped off in Hillbrow, Joburg,” said Gauteng Department of Community Safety spokesperson Ofentse Morwane.

He said the second kidnapping on December 2 was that of the six-year-old boy.

“The third incident took place on December 3 at around 4pm in Clayville Ext 21, where three boys aged eight and nine were kidnapped.

“The suspects were using a white Mazda 3 and demanded a ransom for the release of the children. The parents paid a total amount of R4 500 through an eWallet transaction. After the payment was effected, the children were released and dropped off near a Sasol garage in Midrand,” Morwane said.

He said that in all these cases, the children were taken to hospital for a medical examination, and the results showed no signs of injuries.

“I have instructed the provincial police management to assign a top and well-established team of detectives to hunt down these criminals. It is very important that these criminals be brought to book swiftly to face the full might of law.

“Children are supposed to be protected by everyone in society.

“We cannot fold our arms and allow criminals to instill fear in parents and to deprive children of their rights to live and play freely in their communities,” Nkosi-Malobane said.