A Mitchells Plain man is behind bars after he allegedly kidnapped a two-year-old girl over the weekend.
The disappearance of two-year-old Rulene Jones from Manenberg sent shockwaves through the community, who launched an all-night search for the toddler.
Hundreds of worried mense took to the streets on Saturday night in search of the kidnapper.
Manenberg police station commander, Brigadier Sanele Zama, says police were notified on Saturday night about the child’s disappearance.
“The child lives in Pecos Walk and had gone next door to the neighbour. After some time, her mother realised she did not come back and went to look for her. Immediately alerts were sent out.”
Zama says the Community Police Forum (CPF) along with neighbourhood watch patrollers hit the streets and questioned residents, who said that the child had been seen walking with the kidnapper.
“It was found that he accosted the child on her way from the neighbour’s house and residents revealed that he was spotted at the Chicken Farm in Samora Machel and when the staff were questioned, they confirmed he was seen there,” he adds.
Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, Vanessa Adriaanse, says over 150 patrollers descended on the house and immediately started searching.
“We started in Pecos Walk and the residents agreed to let us search homes, bins and yards. After that, we went to the open spaces like bushes and veldjies.
“Word spread very quickly and that is how we found out about this man named ‘Junior’. We found that he doesn’t live in Manenberg but he is a relative of the neighbour where the child had visited.
“As the child left, he followed her and snatched her.”
Vanessa says patrollers found a sister of the suspect and were led to another relative who told them to search the Silversands squatter camp [in Mitchells Plain].
“We couldn’t go into the squatter camp at that time of the night and we gave all the information to the police.
“They got him and brought the child to the [Manenberg police] station where the community was ready to moer him. Then he started playing mal and screaming that he did nothing.”
Zama adds: “They found the child with the suspect and she was drenched due to the rain. She had no visible injuries but she was taken to a hospital for various medical checks.”
He says the 31-year-old suspect is expected to appear on kidnapping charges at the Athlone Magistrates’ Court this week.
Mom Bronwyn, 34, says she was relieved when she heard there were no signs of abuse.
“They told us he did not hurt or abuse her in anyway. She was still wearing the same nappy that she had on Saturday,” she says.
“We are so happy she is safe and want to thank the community for all they did to find her.”