The 11-year-old schoolgirl who was kidnapped outside her school in Mayfair, Johannesburg, in November has been found.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Robert Netshiunda confirmed that the girl had been found but said police would only release a statement later in the day.
It is not clear at this stage where the girl was found or if anyone has been arrested for the kidnapping.
The girl was kidnapped outside the school gates of the EP Baumann Primary School. According to an eyewitness, two armed men pulled up in a Toyota Yaris as the pupils were lining up outside the school to be screened and sanitised.
The eyewitness said the kidnappers seemed to know their target because they called their girl by her name.
The Gauteng Education Department said the girl’s mother received a call from the police on Wednesday morning telling her to come fetch her child at the police station.
“We are delighted to receive this good news of the safe return of this girl,” said Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Lesufi said his department will provide counselling to the girl.
Kidnappings on the rise
South Africa has seen a sharp increase in kidnappings over the past two years.
Police Minister Bheki Cele, while releasing the second quarter crime statistics in November, confirmed 2,000 kidnappings had been reported in South Africa between July and September 2021.
He said officials analysed a sample of 620 cases. In that sample 52 kidnappings were ransom-related, while seven involved human-trafficking.
Kidnappings by province
The data suggests most kidnappings happened in Gauteng – 796 between July and September 2021, compared to 471 during the same period in 2020.
During the 2021 Q2 period:
- 796 people were kidnapped in Gauteng,
- 407 in KwaZulu-Natal,
- 219 in the Western Cape,
- 171 in Mpumalanga,
- 130 in the Eastern Cape,
- 128 in North West,
- 74 in the Free State,
- 64 in Limpopo,
- 11 in the Northern Cape.
Additional reporting by Cheryl Kahla