Social media has been abuzz with messages warning parents of a young blonde woman and a syndicate that’s out to steal their children.
The messages on Facebook and WhatsApp have gone viral, claim that drug addicts were being offered R2 000 to kidnap kids and hand them over to a child smuggling syndicate.
However, the police and The Pink Ladies have slammed the notices as a hoax.
Photos of a white taxi, apparently used by the kidnappers and seen parking outside schools, have been posted online.
In other notices, a blonde woman driving a blue or green Nissan Micra can be seen taking pictures of children outside school.
Police have apparently also sent out a warning about the syndicate, and that an “emergency report” was broadcast on TV.
One such message reads: “weet nie of julle nuus gekyk het nie… daar is ’n noodberig uit vir vanmore af vir die hele volgende week… kinders gaan gesteel word en ’n groot aantal ook.”
The messages have been causing widespread panic, prompting schools to send out notices to worried parents to be more vigilant.
But not everyone fell for the bangmaak stories.
In response to a post on Worcester Crime Alerts and Updates on Facebook, Elmarie Coetzee pointed out that the woman in the Nissan Micra couldn’t have been “seen” in various towns in such a short space of time.
Elmarie says: “One moment the woman was spotted in Worcester, just to appear five minutes later in Paarl, Wellington or Gauteng. Everyone sees the woman but no one has proof.”
Another was even more straight to the point, saying: “ag man. dis ‘n ou k** storie daai.”
Police have rubbished the claims on Facebook, and appealed to people not to panic.
A post on the official SAPS page states: “The South African Police Services would like to distance itself from the flyers or messages that are circulating on social media, warning parents about child smugglers who are offering drug addicts money to help in kidnapping school children.”
Dessie Rechner of the Pink Ladies organisation also said there was no substance to the claims.
“Messages to make people aware of precautions to take are wonderful but this kind of hoax causes a lot of harm by creating unnecessary panic,” says Rechner.