R100k reward offered for information on girl who has been missing for three years
The search for Bongiwe Ngubeni continues three years on as her family continues to struggle to come to terms with their uncertainty and grief.
File image for illustration only.
One summer afternoon in 2015 in Protea Glen, nine-year-old Bongiwe Ngubeni was on her way to a local spaza shop to buy bread. She was never to be seen again.
Little Bongiwe has been missing for three years now. Life has drastically changed for her mother and her sister since that fateful afternoon on December 1 2015, her family told Soweto Urban.
Her mother, Mbali Ngubeni, has been in and out of hospital due to a myriad of mental and physical health problems. Her older sister, who is now 17, does not want to go anywhere besides school for fear of suffering the same fate as her little sister.
Queen Rabotapi of Thangayo Enrichment Project, an NPO that is assisting in keeping Bongiwe’s name and case alive, said: “Her older sister got her mother to get her transport to and from school. When she comes back from school she gets inside and locks the gate, she doesn’t even want to go out.
“She doesn’t want to go out without her mother’s supervision, the trauma of having her little sister kidnapped is still very intense for her.”
Ngubeni was unable to provide us with an interview due to her fragile mental state.
Rabotapi continued: “Every time I meet with Bongiwe’s family, it’s like she went missing yesterday because they are forever in tears on basis of the fact that she is their child and she is her mother’s youngest daughter.
“The family had so many expectations for her, there are family members who have children the same age as Bongiwe so every time they meet during family gatherings they can’t celebrate because every day is a reminder that she is not there.”
Bongiwe’s primary school, Harmony Primary, has been holding a regular human trafficking awareness campaigns in the school since her disappearance.
The Bring Down Child Trafficking Campaign run by Shireen Ebrahim aims to bring child trafficking down by engaging with schools, encouraging safety by liaising with policing forums available, and educating children on how they can best protect themselves.
Her mother has not given up hope of finding her but considering the cases of missing children not being found alive, she has expressed that what she needs most is closure.
Rabotapi elaborated: “I recently spoke to her and she said that even if Bongiwe is not alive, she just wants to know where she is buried so she can have closure. She basically has 80% hope that she is still alive but there is that 20% that is considering the possibility of the worst-case scenario.”
Rabotapi encourages parents to be aware of the whereabouts of their children at all times and find stimulating ways to keep them entertained in the house if they are unable to go outside with them to play. There is a standing reward for R100,000 for anyone who has information that will lead to finding little Bongiwe.