A mother who caught a strange woman taking photos of her daughter in a shopping mall says the threat of a child kidnapping syndicate is real.
The mom says she confronted the woman after seeing pictures of her 12-year old daughter and niece on the woman’s cellphone.
Somerset Mall management says the suspect was questioned by police but released again.
However, police say they have no record of the matter.
Antoinette Swanepoel Dyers posted photos of the female stranger on Facebook, warning people to take WhatsApp and Facebook messages about the syndicate seriously.
Her post has gone viral with more than 21 000 shares yesterday afternoon.
It shows several photos of a blonde middle-aged woman standing in Somerset Mall, busy scrolling through her phone.
“Being aware of previous watsapp messages and fb posts (sic) warning parents to be aware of a blonde woman kidnapping children, my mom told us to take note of this woman,” reads the post.
Her warning comes in the wake of posts on social media warning about a child kidnapping syndicate operating in the Western Cape.
A woman with long blonde hair, driving a blue or green Nissan Micra, was spotted taking photos of kids outside school. There’s also a warning about a white Quantum taxi parked outside schools, and that drug addicts were being paid thousands of rands to kidnap children.
The SAPS official Facebook page rubbished the posts as a hoax.
But a Strand mother reported that her 10-year old daughter was nearly snatched outside Rusthof Primary School on Wednesday, allegedly by a blonde woman and black man in a blue/green car.
Antoinette says she was in the mall with her mother, sisters and their young daughters over the weekend.
She says they noticed the woman snapping pictures of the girls, but she moved away from them when she saw they stared at her.
As they left the mall, the woman tried to take more pictures.
Antoinette then decides to turn around, and peeped over the woman’s shoulder.
“That is when I saw that she actually had pictures of our children on her phone! I was so shocked! I asked her why she was taking pictures of our children and she claimed she was a “street photographer”. What a load of crap!”
“On the photos she took, you could see that she was zooming in on the eldest two of 12 years old.”
The sisters called mall security, and told the woman to delete the photos.
Luzanne says she took the phone to check if the photos were gone.
“This is when I saw that it wasn’t just only our children’s pictures on there, there’s other children’s as well, age group 12-16 years different races in different areas, teenagers sitting by the beach or passing by a shop, and it’s not the type of photos a decent photographer would take.”
She says as they drove away, a man came up to them, peeked into the car and checked their registration number before running off.
Captain FC van Wyk says the incident at Somerset Mall has not been reported to SAPS.
But Lizelle Louw, Somerset Mall Marketing Manager, says they informed cops.
“The incident was reported to SAPS and the suspect was removed from site for questioning. SAPS investigated the matter and (later) released the suspect,” states Louw.