MEC Lesufi concerned about alleged kidnapping of pupil from Mayfair school

It's alleged that three men abducted the grade 5 pupil in a Toyota Yaris at gunpoint on Wednesday morning while she was waiting for her turn to go through COVID-19 screening at the gate of EP Baumann Primary School in Johannesburg.

FILE: Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said that he was deeply concerned about the alleged kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl outside her primary school in Mayfair.

It's alleged that three men abducted the grade 5 pupil in a Toyota Yaris at gunpoint on Wednesday morning while she was waiting for her turn to go through COVID-19 screening at the gate of EP Baumann Primary School in Johannesburg.

Police are investigating the circumstances around her disappearance.

The department is pleading with anyone who knows where she is to help authorities.

Spokesperson Steve Mabona: "Police were informed and they are investigating the circumstances around this incident. Anyone who may have information is encouraged to interact with the police as soon as possible. We have already dispatched our psychosocial team to the school to conduct counselling and supporting all those who may have witnessed this incident."

This incident comes in the wake of last month's kidnapping of four brothers in Limpopo who were on their way to school.

The Moti brothers, aged between six and 15, were kidnapped at gunpoint in Polokwane on 20 October and finally returned safely after three weeks. They were released unharmed, left on the side of a road near Vuwani.

No details of the boys' ordeal have been released to the public and police are continuing their investigation into the kidnapping.

'WE'RE ALL TARGETS'

There seems to be an increase in demand for bodyguards and other protection services with kidnappings on the rise here in South Africa.

In recent years, there's been an uptick in businessmen being kidnapped for ransom.

The families of wealthy businesspeople are also being targeted.

Pierre Gildenhuys is the head of forensic investigations, specialised and qualified close protection officer, at D & K Management Consultants.

He said that, overall, there'd been an increase in demand for personal security.

"It's not only your high profile people but it's more and more becoming a need in South Africa where your kids can't play out in the street anymore, you can't leave your phone on the seat of your car. It's becoming a problem with crime statistics in South Africa."

Gildenhuys said while wealthier people were targeted, kidnappings also took place in rural areas and townships where children were taken for ransom as well.

"Children are being kidnapped and held for ransom for R1,000, R2,000, R5,000. Whether you are white, black, Indian, poor or rich, unfortunately, we are all targets."

Additional reporting by Kaylynn Palm.