An anti-crime website and Facebook group has received an anonymous message demanding a ransom of 5 Bitcoin (nearly R280 000) for the return of a missing nine-year-old girl.
Linathi Titshala vanished near her home in Thubelitsha, Delft, on 16 December.
Yesterday, admin for the well-known group, Western Cape Gangwatch, was stunned when it received an email which read: “Do you want to find Linathi Titshala. If you want her safe return you are to pay 5 Bitcoin to the following Bitcoin address. 1Bk4TQzDXhxGgMwrXcaFhViSyoT9GLk2kN. You have 48 hours should you not transfer the bitcoin in 48 hours we will cease communication. This email is going to be deleted in 12 hours.”
Bitcoin is a virtual electronic currency that is difficult to track.
GROUP STUNNED: The ransom note
Gangwatch, which regularly works with law enforcement agencies, tried to trace the email.
A spokesperson for the group said: “We are trying to track it via the Bitcoin code, but believe the email the person is using was probably created at an internet cafe, which automatically deletes it and there is no IP address available either.
“Hopefully they realise the family’s circumstances and realise they cannot keep the girl for a lengthy period,” the spokesperson said.
Candice Sobotker, from the Western Cape Missing Persons Unit, says the search for Linathi continues.
“We are pooling all resources including doing a search again in the coming week. There will be a search for Linathi on Monday, 7 January and Tuesday, 8 January, [from] 9am-4pm.
PRICE: Ransom in virtual currency for Linathi Titshala
“Everyone will meet at Delft SAPS. For more information, please contact Candice on 082 225 2612.”
The girl’s grandmother, Nabantu Matanzima, says Linathi celebrated her birthday on 14 December.
On 15 December she had a party for the little girl at her Cork Tree Street home and the child slept over.
She was sent to her home, two doors away, on 16 December to have a bath and has not been seen by her family since.