An Elsies River boy who disappeared without a trace has been found after two months, after a kidnapping syndicate used him to beg for food and money on the street.
Mom Louisa Giose, 55, was overjoyed on Friday when the search for her 13-year-old son Marcell Stevens ended.
She says Marcell was found by her sister-in-law Carol Kramer in Bonteheuwel.
“My in-laws found Marcell begging on the street in Bonteheuwel and they called me immediately to come and fetch him,” says Louisa.
“When I came there, I could not believe how dirty he was but I was just so happy to see him.
“He told us that he was in a house somewhere in Bonteheuwel and was taken by a woman in a field here close to our house in Crust Street in Salberau.
“He said she asked him to help her with something and must walk with her but the next thing he knew they were someplace he did not know and she took him away.”
According to the mother, Marcell was kept in the unknown house for two months and was only allowed outside to beg for food and money.
“When I first saw him, he was clutching a R5 coin and he said that the lady who took him made him beg on the streets and when he cried to come home, they’d hit him.
“He has a lot of burn marks on his face and leg while there are also bruises on his side.
“I took him to the day hospital and they sent him to Karl Bremer Hospital where doctors said he was physically abused but not sexually.
“Since he came home, we have just been so happy and his brother Mario is so happy to have his best friend back.”
Louisa said she went to the police station to report the kidnapping but cops failed to help her.
“When I went to the police, they said the investigating officer is in Pretoria and that I [needed to go back yesterday] to try and get somebody to go to this woman.
“I was so shocked by this because Marcell said there are other children also living in the house so they might be other people’s children.”
Candice van der Rheede of the Western Cape Missing Persons Unit says parents must keep up-to-date photos of their kids.
“Marcell looks completely different from the picture we have for him. I personally drove around Bonteheuwel looking for him but I could have easily driven past him,” she says.