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Six Ekurhuleni Children Missing After Mass Kidnapping For Initiation

Six Ekurhuleni Children Missing After Mass Kidnapping For Initiation..  Six children are still missing in Daveyton and Etwatwa, on the East Rand, after a  kidnapping spree targeting teenagers last weekend.

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Six Ekurhuleni Children Missing After Mass Kidnapping For Initiation

 

Police and the children’s parents believe they were abducted and taken to an initiation school in Limpopo.

A multidisciplinary team on Wednesday night rescued eight children from an initiation school in Dennilton, Limpopo, some 150km away from their homes.

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Co-operative governance and traditional affairs chief director of intergovernmental relations Kiba Kekana said the children were found at an initiation school on the mountains.

The 14 children all disappeared from Daveyton and Etwatwa on Saturday. They are aged between 13 and 18.

Petunia Motlamelle of Daveyton struggled to hold back tears as she described how her 16-year-old son was kidnapped.

Motlamelle said her son Tebogo left the house to go and hang out with his friends outside their home early Saturday evening.

She only realised that something was wrong at 10pm when he did not come back.

“I started calling him but the phone was off and I texted but he did not respond. On Sunday, I woke up and started asking around.

“One of the children in the neighbourhood informed me that he had left in a Quantum with a group of other teenagers,” Motlamelle said.

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She said she then went to the police station on Sunday to register a missing persons case but it was only opened the next day as more parents came to report their children missing.

By Monday, 11 children from Daveyton and Etwatwa had been reported missing by their parents and police started searching for them.

Motlamelle said her biggest concern is that her son has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and he left his chronic medication at home.

“I do not know what is happening to him where he is. What is he eating? I’m really scared,” she said.

Police spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo said: “Parents knew that the children were at an initiation school. While we were searching for the children, parents came with officials from Gauteng co-operative governance and traditional affairs,  informing us where the children were. Police then accompanied them to Dennilton where some of the children were found.”

Eight boys were rescued and on arrival at the police station, their parents gave the children food as they visibly looked weak.

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The boys were then taken to a local clinic where they were examined.

Stone Mathabela.

Stone Mathabela, whose 15-year-old son was among the eight who were rescued, said he was able to get the contact details of the “kingpin” running the initiation school in Limpopo.

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“He demanded R4,500 to release my son. I was lucky enough that officials were able to find him quickly.

“There is a lot of criminal activity with these people. My son says they were made to eat only cabbage and every day they worked cutting wood,” Mathabela said.

Ntsoareleng Mohale’s 17-year-old daughter Phelanga Mahlehla who also disappeared on Saturday with others is yet to return home.

“It has been extremely cold over the past few days. My daughter has arthritis. When temperatures drop, her joints begin to fail. I wonder how she is coping today,” Mohale said.

The government has been enacting new laws to combat illegal initiation schools for years to no avail.

Despite possibilities of serious charges such as human trafficking and extortion, the operators of illicit initiation schools continue with their business of kidnapping children and demand money (initiation fees) from the parents.

Last year, the Customary Initiation Act became effective excluding people with convictions for child abuse, violence and substance abuse from looking after the initiates.

Traditional school heads can only conduct initiations if they are registered and have been issued with the required documents by government.

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Initiation facilities must be monitored by authorities.  Alcohol consumption is banned except for rituals and the decision to undergo the procedure lies solely with the child.

Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA spokesperson Prince Manene Tabane said while kidnappings have not been so prevalent this year, there was a new trend.

“The act has helped reduce illegal initiation schools which would usually abduct boys and take in boys who are underage with the aim of commercialising the practice. But what we are facing now is the abduction of boys in Gauteng to other provinces. The frustration of the parents emanates from all angles.

“Some families do not practise [the culture of] going to initiation schools so these schools would abduct any boy they find because they want money,” Tabane said.

“In Dennilton, a demand of R3,500 per boy is made to the family as a payment to get them through [initiation]. If they have 30 initiates multiply that by R3,500, that will show their  business [intent].”

 

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