Two more houses have been torched in Rustenburg following the disappearance of a teenage girl, North West police said on Thursday.
Rustenburg police spokesperson Captain Elsabe Augoustides said the houses were set alight on Wednesday night, bringing to five the number of houses torched since Tuesday night.
“We are appealing for calm, there are criminal cases being investigated that could lead to prosecution, arson is a serious charge,” Augoustides said. “A man was arrested on Wednesday night for possession of a petrol bomb.”
Irate residents of East End in Rustenburg took the law into their own hands on Tuesday night, burning down houses they alleged Nigerian nationals operate brothels from. Three house were torched on Tuesday.
This was after Gomolemo Karabo Haraba, 14, went missing on her way home from school on November 3. She is a Grade 8 learner at Rustenburg Technical High School.
“The police request anyone with information that may lead to successful tracing of Gomolemo to contact the investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Ernest Modise on 060 967 3932 or 073 189 9343,” said Augoustides.
She said firefighters were threatened on Wednesday night when they were called to extinguish the fires.
“The community threatened to burn the fire engine if they extinguish the fire. They returned without battling the fire.”
Stephen Haraba, Gomolemo’s uncle and family spokesperson, said on Tuesday that a man, when confronted by the community, made a few cellphone calls and told the community he was going to Rustenburg Noord to pick up Gomolemo.
“We waited for three hours, when he returned he had another girl, not Gomolemo,” he said.
“It is difficult to trace a person, an animal is kept outside and people can see it, a person is too difficult because you keep them inside a house. We are appealing for the safe return of our child.”
He said Gomolemo was a quiet child who would never leave without telling where she was going.
“The family is worried, we do not know whether she is safe, what is she eating … It is difficult for the family.”
The community suspected she was kidnapped.
“These guys know where she is, on Tuesday they went to [Rustenburg] Noord stating they are going to fetch her, when they come back the brought another girl aged about 14, she was not Gomolemo, she was from Lichtenburg. This alone shows there are a lot of girls missing somewhere in the country and kept,” said community member Floyd Makaotela.
“Something must be done, these guys must tell us where she is. We cannot allow prostitution and drug dealing in our area, this must stop now,” he said.
Makaota said the community would not rest until Gomolemo was found.
Another community member, Simphiwe Nkosi, said if it meant they had to go house by house searching for her, that would be done.
“We cannot sit, we must act, we are on our own. As parents in East End we are all affected. The police are not doing anything to help.”