Kidnapping rife in Middelburg as third attempt in three weeks foiled

Kidnapping rife in Middelburg as third attempt in three weeks foiled

Walter van Straaten, an MMA professional, helped save a little girl from being kidnapped. Image: Middelburg Observer

The Mpumalanga town is gripped with fear after a third kidnapping attempt in as many weeks.

Last Sunday, another kidnapping attempt took place in the heart of Middelburg. Luckily, a mixed martial arts (MMA) professional was able to help.

Walter van Straaten had to fight for his life after an alleged kidnapper wanted to stab him with a butcher knife, he told Middelburg Observer.

This most recent kidnapping attempt follows two others – one which took place three weeks ago and another that took place last Saturday, in which two-year-old and nine-year-old boys were both grabbed from inside their parents’ vehicles.

In the incident three weeks ago, and last Sunday, the men were armed with butcher knives.

On Wednesday evening three weeks ago, two-year-old Raygan van Niekerk was grabbed from his mother’s bakkie.

His brother, nine-year-old Nathan, immediately jumped out of the car and chased the suspect. After a while, the kidnapper threw Raygan in the street, and Nathan picked him up and put him safely back in the car.

Their mother, Lizette, also pursued the suspect, and was threatened at knife point by the man, where he allegedly threatened to kill her.

Last Saturday afternoon, a man grabbed a nine-year-old boy out of an open window on the passenger side of a vehicle, and tried to pull the boy through the window while also trying to unlock the car door.

The child’s mother immediately grabbed her child and began tugging at him to get him back into the car. As the traffic light turned green, the mother raced to safety.

During this incident, a second suspect also allegedly targeted the child’s younger brothers who were in the back seat of the car, but their door was locked.

In last Sunday’s incident, an armed man targeted a woman and her daughter. The child, her mother and grandmother went in to a local pharmacy, and when they got to their vehicle, the suspect struck.

A couple in the pharmacy heard the child screaming, after which an MMA professional, Walter van Straaten, pursued the suspect.

The man let the child go as soon as he saw van Straaten running towards him. Van Straaten grabbed the man by the neck, but was subsequently stabbed twice with a 30cm butcher knife.

The suspect then fled into a nearby taxi rank, with two security guards hot on his heels.

Van Straaten says the little girl was only about five years old.

No arrests have been made yet.

Police have reportedly not yet requested the municipality’s CCTV footage to nab the perpetrators.

This article was translated from Afrikaans by Nica Schreuder

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