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'Which child will be a victim next?' - Amy'Leigh 'kidnappers' must not get bail, state argues

Tharina Human, Laetitia Nel and Pieter van Zyl in court for their bail application. The trio are accused of kidnapping six-year-old Amy'Leigh de Jager.
Tharina Human, Laetitia Nel and Pieter van Zyl in court for their bail application. The trio are accused of kidnapping six-year-old Amy'Leigh de Jager.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The three people accused of kidnapping Amy’Leigh de Jager would be endangering their own lives and those of the public if they were released from custody, the state argued in its bail application on Tuesday.

Tharina Human, 27, Laetitia Nel, 40, and Pieter van Zyl, 50, stand accused of snatching Amy’Leigh from her mother at Laerskool Kollegepark in Vanderbijlpark on September 2.

Prosecutor Luanda Ngcobo argued on Monday in the Vanderbijlpark magistrate's court that the state had a strong case against them.

She said witnesses would testify that they had planned the kidnapping.

“A witness will testify that she or he was there when the plan was made to kidnap the child. Accused one [Human] is the mastermind. She came up with the idea as to what should happen,” Ngcobo said.

She said Human had allegedly devised three ways to execute the plan.

“She first offered herself to be kidnapped. She then offered her sister-in-law. They tried to execute their plan to kidnap the sister-in-law, but the plan did not succeed.”

Ngcobo said a witness would testify that she was present when Van Zyl brought Amy'Leigh into their house.

“The state has evidence of telephone records that the accused are linked to the case,” Ngcobo argued.

She argued that if released on bail, the applicants would put their lives and those of the public in danger.

“Which child is going to be a victim if they get released on bail? The Nigerian man is still waiting for his money. He wants his money. It’s no longer about the money now, but him being exposed. He is angry he has been exposed. They are going to endanger the public and themselves if they are out there,” Ngcobo said.

An investigating officer at the child protection unit previously testified that Human owed a Nigerian a lot of money. He purportedly threatened to make it back out of Human's daughter. He said they allegedly planned the kidnapping to bail out her own daughter.

Ngcobo said the state believed the trio would evade trial if released on bail as they did not own properties.

“Applicant one [Human] does not have property. She was renting. She has a child, who is in the care of her mother. What will make her attend the trial if there is nothing stopping her from evading trial?

“Applicant two [Nel] indicated that she owns a plot. She doesn’t own a plot. She lives with her parents. According to the state’s investigation, the plot is on the market. She is unemployed.

“The owner of the house where applicant three says he will stay, said he does not want him in his house because he stays with children. It was also indicated that they are not wanted by their families,” said Ngcobo.

She said the case had attracted public attention because of the general prevalence of child abuse.

“Children are abused; children are kidnapped; children are killed.

“The public wants to know what is happening to the case.”

Ngcobo also argued that there was a possibility that the applicants would influence witnesses, as they were known to them.

Counsel for the three accused argued that they should be granted bail as the state had not proved that it was not in the interest of justice that they be released on bail.

Stoffel Venter, Nel's lawyer, argued that "a person cannot be kept in custody under the assumption that they will be found guilty".

“It’s my humble submission that there is nothing brought before court that the accused will endanger the public and themselves,” argued David May, Human's lawyer.

Judgment will be delivered on October 11.

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