Phone call to dad set in motion tearful reunion with 'kidnapped' schoolboy
It was a telephone call to his father that set in motion the tearful reunion between a 14-year-old school pupil who was allegedly abducted and his family on Wednesday.
It appears that the would-be child-snatchers abandoned their plans and simply dumped the boy at a shopping mall.
The pupil, who is not being named to protect his identity, was reported missing from Queens High School in Kensington, Johannesburg, on Monday. He was found at Maponya Mall in Soweto after a frantic two-day search.
It was via a call from security guards at the mall that the family realised the boy was safe. It was the child's father who broke the news to police.
“This morning at around 10.30am, we received information from the father to say that he was called by the security guards at Maponya Mall to say the child is there,” said police spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo.
“Indeed we arrived and found the child, but we had to follow the procedure [and] take the child to the medical practitioner, who wanted to confirm there was nothing done to [him] and there was no harm. We are still busy studying the reports of the medical practitioner."
The pieces of the kidnapping incident puzzle are still vague.
SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE understands that the boy's father is an employee of a courier company, while his mother is unemployed. Their abducted son is the youngest of four children.
Speaking to the media outside the department of community safety offices in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, where the boy was being examined, his relieved father said: “There were a lot of dots that were not connecting."
He was wary of revealing too much about his son’s disappearance, saying he did not want to jeopardise the police investigation. He could not divulge how his son ended up at the mall, about 25km from the school.
The father said that Monday was a regular school day. He dropped his son at school and told him not to use the regular scholar transport because he planned to fetch him, due to soccer practice.
TimesLIVE understands, however, that soccer practice did not take place that afternoon.
“Someone requested a Taxify for him, which picked him up from school. There are a lot of things that happened from there and by the time I came to pick him up, he was not [there].”
The father said while he could not disclose his son’s medical condition or whether any harm had come to him during the ordeal, the family were doing their best to support him.
“All we have done is to give him comfort. The doctors have asked for us to give him space so he can recover ... For now, all I am thankful for is that he is still breathing.
“I feel like what we have gone through as a family and those close to him, I do not wish for this to be experienced by someone else.”
By Wednesday afternoon, the police had not made any arrests. Masondo said they were still handling the matter as a kidnapping case.