Social media sounds kidnap warning at Tshwane malls

Garsfontein police spokesperson Captain Ilze Jones has urged parents to not leave young children unattended, even for a few seconds.

Two incidents of intended abduction of children by strangers from shopping centres in Pretoria East were reported on social media this week.

In the first incident, Minette Griessel was at a shopping centre in Atterbury Road when an unknown man accosted her 13-year-old daughter while she was looking at a book.

Griesel said the man was tall, dark and looked like a foreign national. CCTV footage from the store has yet to be scrutinised to see if he could be identified.

“The man stood behind my daughter and pressed her arm while trying to pull her,” said Griessel. “She was so terrified that she did not shout or scream for help. He let her go when she turned around and looked at him.”

Griessel said her daughter was still traumatised.

“She is now scared to even go to the shops with me,” said Griessel. “It makes me angry as she is now full of fear and it will take a while for her to recover from the experience.”

In a similar event in Mooikloof, Elize Botha Miller wrote on Sunday on the Facebook group Ek’s van die Ooste: “Same thing at Mooikloof Spar today … [bid] to take boy from mother.”

Store manager Andre Andries confirmed the episode, saying it happened in the car park.

“The mother was walking with her boy in the parking area when a black Mercedes with Limpopo number plates pulled up. A male occupant shouted to her ‘I want your child’,” said the manager. “The mother ignored him and kept on walking and the car drove off.”

Griessel warned parents to be extremely careful when visiting shopping centres or malls with their children.

Several parents reacted with a mixture of relief and anxiety on Facebook.

Nicol Saaiman said: “So grateful she’s okay. I’m just so nervous in the shops with my children.”

Pear Blackmeyer wrote: “So glad all is ok. Frightening. They are so quick and blatant.”

Several incidents of this nature were reported towards the end of last year. At a shopping centre in Atterbury, two men were seen taking random pictures of kids in December.

An eyewitness, Chantelle Knoesen, said she noticed them as she was walking past. She then went and stood behind one of the men and it looked like he was taking pictures or videos of people walking by.

“While observing him, I saw him taking a picture of two kids and then looking at it. I confronted him, asking why he was taking pictures of kids and he denied it as he deleted the pictures from his cellphone,” she said. “There was no security in sight to report the matter to. I could do nothing so they are still out there. Please watch your kids.”

Garsfontein police spokesperson Captain Ilze Jones said although no cases had been reported, police were aware of the threat of abduction, especially of young children.

She urged parents to exercise caution when going shopping. “Do not leave young children unattended, even for a few seconds,” she said. “Do not allow your attention to be drawn away from your young ones.”

 Caxton News Service

Read more on these topics


Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits