21 boys rescued from 'bogus' initiation school
Police have rescued over 21 boys from a "bogus" initiation school in Mabopane, north of Pretoria.
The rescue efforts were conducted in partnership with the Isihlangu Sobukgwari Namasiko organisation helped rescue the boys.
All the boys come from Ekurhuleni townships such as Etwatwa and Daveyton, and adjoining informal settlements.
According to police spokesperson Ramothakhi Maqabe the boys aged between 12 and 17 were rescued and returned to their parents.
“It is a criminal offence to abduct children and take them into initiation without their parents' consent and knowledge,” said Maqabe.
He said there had been a rising number of complaints and cases of missing male children in the area that had made police concerned.
“We engaged with the parents and initiation school leadership in the area who assisted us by searching for open schools and we discovered there was one in Mabopane, and that it had recruiters in Etwatwa and Daveyton,” said Maqabe.
He said two parents opened missing persons cases two weeks ago, leading to the recovery of a total of 21 boys.
Maqabe said first group to be rescued were eight boys who were rescued by police after a tip off and assistance from the Isihlangu Sobukgwari Namasiko, an organisation for initiation schools and traditional leadership.
A second larger group of about 12 boys escaped from a minibus vehicle while the driver had stopped for pee. The boys ran off and reached Klipgat police station where they reported their kidnap.
“There are Toyota Quantum minibuses driving around the townships allegedly looking to kidnap young boys to take them to initiation schools.
"These kidnappers would later call or send letters to parents, using threatening language to demand money of up to R3,000 for the release of the kidnapped children," Maqabe said.
"They also make it clear to parents that their sons would not be released before they are circumcised."