A recent spike in missing children on the Cape Flats has raised concern amongst parents. In the last week alone as many as five youngsters have gone missing in and around Hanover Park, a worrisome trend during the school holidays. In one particular case, 19 year old Zunaid Begg from Hanover Park was abducted on his way to college in Salt River last week and tortured for four days in an undisclosed location.
Zunaid’s mother, Zaeema Begg told VOC News she was elated to hear her son’s voice when he called her on Eid Al-Adha ion Sunday morning. The kidnapper instructed her to collect her son. Zunaid left for school last Thursday from which they were meant to leave for an excursion, but he never showed up. The family searched and waited after alerting police and the necessary NGO’s for assistance but received no word for four days.
“When my phone rang on Sunday I was so relieved to hear my son’s voice just to know that he was still alive. Then the kidnapper said to me ‘come fetch your son before I kill him’,” Zaeema recalled.
She still does not know what the reason was for his kidnapping or for him being tortured by this man and his accomplice.
“I don’t know them, why they would so something like this. They took all his belongings (mobile phone, laptop and clothing) and sold it.”
Zaeema said her son was a good boy, who was homely and very concerned about his deen. While other boys succumbed to peer pressure and were involved anti social activity in the area, he had managed to stay away from the bad elements, she said. She believed that her son had been monitored by a local gangster, and was perhaps threatened in the days before the kidnapping.
“She just seemed very different, he was himself. I know something was bothering him.”
Doctor’s reports showed that Zunaid had not been hurt sexually, but had incurred some bruises. He is being hospitalised.
“We are all so traumatised. I haven’t been able to sleep for days. We are now in the process of getting Zunaid some counselling so that he can move on from this experience.”
A day after Zunaid was found, 11 year old Nasrullah Nazier and 12 year old Nicole Abrahams from Hanover Park were also reported missing. After a frantic two day search, Nicole contacted her mother to inform her that she and the boy were at Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg. The children had apparently walked to Sunrise Beach from Hanover Park ‘to run away together’.
On Tuesday, two children from Lansdowne were also reported missing. Western Cape police said two unknown men picked them up in a car in Lansdowne and drove off with them. Clinton Swart, 10, and Samuel Muller, 11, were playing in front of the Lansdowne Fisheries at the corner of Lansdowne and Blomvlei roads around 3.30pm when two men stopped the car, called the children and ordered them to jump into a car. The children were found unharmed, but no arrests have been made.
Pink Ladies director Dessie Rechner said that there will be a rise in these kinds of incidents due to the fact that it is school holidays. However, Missing Children South Africa’s Nicky Rheeder said the recent cases were alarming, but it cannot be seen a “trend”. Rheeder said that while many factors play a role in the disappearance of children, human trafficking is becoming more prevalent in the country. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)