The parents of a Grade 8 pupil from Queens High School in Johannesburg are still in disbelief that their son was returned home safely after allegedly being kidnapped on Monday.
Mthandeni Masuku and Portia Julius Hlatshwayo said they do not wish the pain and trauma they went through on any parent as they searched for their son.
Masuku and Hlatshwayo were speaking from the lounge of their home in Meadowlands, Soweto, on Wednesday, hours after their 14-year-old son was found at Maponya Mall.
“We do not wish the pain and trauma we went through on any parent. Not only in South Africa, but worldwide.
“It is so painful and traumatic to a point where you start questioning why the world has turned out like this,” Masuku said.
Fear was still visible on their faces as the distraught couple recalled the events when their son went missing.
According to the Gauteng education department, the teenager was kidnapped while waiting outside the school on Monday, News24 previously reported.
A ransom of R500,000 was reportedly demanded for his safe return.
Gauteng police are investigating a case of kidnapping.
Masuku said he usually fetched his son from school when he was engaged in extramural activities. On Monday, the pupil was meant to attend soccer practice.
However, when Masuku arrived, the teenager was not there. He said while they were viewing the CCTV footage at the school, his son was seen interacting with a friend who had requested an e-hailing cab for him.
Masuku would not dwell on the details why his son had used a cab when he usually picked him up, saying it was critical to the police investigation.
Recalling what led to their reunion with their son on Wednesday morning, he said a call from a security guard alerted them that the boy was at the mall. He was found still dressed in his school uniform, except for his pullover and blazer.
Although the teenager showed no signs of injury, his father said he was not in a good state.
Masuku added the family had offered their son love and comfort; and refrained from questioning him until the police took him to undergo medical checks.
“As disturbed as I was, I am still very grateful because of the outcome and the child was found alive. When we found him, he was in a state that hurts me so much each time I think of it. But I look beyond that because he is alive.”
Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo confirmed the boy was found at the mall, saying no arrests have been made and the investigation was ongoing.
The teenager’s parents have thanked all stakeholders, including their employers and the school, for lending a helping hand in ensuring that their son was found and returned home safely.
News24 earlier published the boy’s name because he was missing. Because he is a minor and has since been found, the publication is now not naming him following a Constitutional Court ruling.