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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Joshlin Smith: K9 Unit deployed again in search for missing Saldanha girl

The search for the six-year-old Joshlin Smith continues with police deploying their K9 Unit over the weekend.

In the latest development in the disappearance case of six-year-old Joshlin Smith, the Western Cape police deployed specialised dogs from its K9 Unit to the Middelpos informal settlement over the weekend.

The search ensued after residents of the Middelpos informal settlement from where little Joshlin mysteriously vanished on 19 February, reported a putrid stench coming from bushes in the area.

The Grade 1 Diazville Primary School pupil has been missing for more than two months despite an extensive search operation which has extended as far as the United Kingdom (UK) alongside Interpol.

ALSO READ: Where is Joshlin Smith? Case of missing Saldanha girl extends abroad

Ongoing search for Joshlin Smith

At the beginning of March, the local SA Navy joined forces with the police’s mounted unit, K9 Unit and firefighters to scour the area.

Drones and helicopters were also used in the search while detectives from the South African Police Service (Saps) provincial office in Cape Town descended on the West Coast town to support local investigators.

Mother of Joshlin and three co-accused charged

Joshlin’s mother claimed she left her daughter in the care of her boyfriend, Jacquen “Boeta” Appollis, as the little girl was too sick to go to school that day.

Kelly, Appollis and the couple’s friends Steveno van Rhyn and Lourentia “Renze” Lombaard were arrested and charged with human trafficking and kidnapping in connection with Joshlin’s disappearance.

Daily news update 26 March 2024
Lourentia ‘Renze’ Lombaard, left, during her first appearance at the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on 18 March. Kelly Smith, the mother of little Joshlin, pictured top right, and her boyfriend, Jacquin ‘Boeta’ Appollis. Pictures: Screengrab via X/ @NewzroomAfrika and Facebook/ Gayton McKanzie and Mayor Andre Truter

The four accused are due to appear in the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on 13 May.

‘Bad odour’ coming from bushes

Commenting on this past weekend’s search, Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said the K9 Unit, Crime Intelligence and Anti-Kidnapping Task Team, as well as local visible policing members were dispatched to Middelpos.

“The search was negative,” Van Wyk added.

 Saldanha Bay community activist Janice Cameron told News24 some residents raised concerns about a “bad odour” coming from a bush near where Joshlin lived in rickety shack with her mother, Appollis and her two siblings. 

The smell was very strong, and we alerted the police just in case it was something to do with Joshlin.

“Police then let us know that they would send a search team this past weekend to search the bushes, but unfortunately they found nothing,” Cameron added. 

Pollsmoor inmate claims Kelly told her where Joshlin is

Last week, a woman who claimed to have been in Pollsmoor Prison with Kelly said the girl’s mother told her where the child was.

Middelpos councillor Vernon Vraagom told IOL that a WhatsApp voice note with the claims of Kelly’s fellow inmate started doing the rounds on Monday.

“We gathered people around and told them that the woman – who was a witness to a crime but missed a court date and was arrested thereafter – said she was told by Kelly that the child was at the shack where a sangoma lives in Middelpos,” Vraagom said.

“She described the shack and said there is a Kombi that parks there. According to her, we should check under it because there’s a drain and that Joshlin wasn’t the only child who was there.”

Diazville residents and the police however did not find anything when they went to the sangoma’s shack.

‘Not nice’: Family visits Kelly in jail

According to News24, Zulpha Cupido, said the family had gone to visit Kelly a few weeks ago in Cape Town’s Pollsmoor Prison to find out if she was okay and if she was “being honest” with the police. 

Suspects In The Joslin Smith Disappearance Case Appear At Vredenburg Magistrate's Court
Kelly Smith during the Joshlin Smith disappearance case at Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on 7 March 2024 in Vredenburg. Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

“She looks fine, she’s still very adamant that she doesn’t know where Joshlin is… Kelly just wants to be released from prison because she said it is not nice there,” said Cupido. 

ALSO READ: Joshlin Smith: Court chaos, Pollsmoor fisticuffs, new leads and claims of two more suspects

Was Joshlin sold for muti to cover drug debt?

The Citizen previously reported that 75-year-old Diazville resident “Oom” David Louw, for whom Kelly has done odd domestic jobs the past 12 years, noted significant changes in her appearance and behaviour which was possibly linked to heavy drug use and tik (crystal meth) psychosis.

Kelly has openly admitted to Patriotic Alliance (PA) leader Gayton McKenzie in a Facebook Live video that she and Appollis were tik users.

Joslin’s biological father, Jose Emke, residing in Springbok, suspects that Joshlin’s disappearance and claims that she was sold for muti for R20 000 might be directly linked to drug debt accumulated by Kelly and her boyfriend.

NOW READ: Joshlin Smith: Did ticking time bomb of tik push Mom Kelly over the edge?