Tharina Human, the alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping of six-year-old Amy’Leigh de Jager, reportedly admitted that she planned the whole kidnapping because she owed a Nigerian man money but did not say what she owed him money for.
Numerous previous media reports have speculated that the debt was linked to drugs.
This is according to Constable Clayton Motloung, who took to the stand to give evidence in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrates Court during today’s court proceedings that were presided over by Magistrate Hussein Khota.
He said Amy’Leigh was supposedly kidnapped to “save” Human’s daughter. Motloung, the investigating officer, told the court that when he arrested Human, she said the Nigerian man had threatened to kidnap her eight-year-old daughter over the money owed.
According to Motloung, who said he was still investigating the case, Amy’Leigh’s mother Angeline said she was dropping her children off at school when the incident took place.
Her five-year-old son was in the car with her and Amy’Leigh and she said a man grabbed the boy first, let him go and then grabbed the little girl and fled.
Motloung then went on to recall how hard it was to trace the getaway vehicle as there was no registration number attached to it.
It was only after Amy’Leigh’s father, Wynand, received a call from an African male two hours after the kidnapping asking for R2 million that the police were able to trace the number that called the victim’s father to a plot just outside Vanderbijlpark.
It was there that they found a woman related to accused number one (Tharina Human), Laetitia Nel, 40.
Motloung said the number was traced to accused number two (Laetitia Nel), prompting them to head over to her house, where they found all three of the accused present on the same day of the kidnapping.
The court heard how further investigations led police back to Nel’s house, who told them the kidnapping was Human’s idea and Pieter van Zyl, 50, was involved when they got there.
Motloung testified about how Nel took them to Van Zyl’s house thereafter, where they discovered a firearm and found an African man who ran away.
That suspect is still at large.
According to Motloung, their initial plan was to stage 27-year-old Human’s abduction in order to get her family to pay the ransom.
They then allegedly decided to stage the kidnapping of a close family member, knowing that Human’s brother would “bail that person out”.
The accused later changed their plan and allegedly decided to kidnap Amy’Leigh.
Vaal Weekblad reports that the trio was arrested last week and appeared in a packed magistrate’s court in the town on Monday, September 9.
The trio was in court on a formal bail application on Thursday and proceedings were still under way.
The African National Congress Women’s League in Sedibeng demonstrated outside the court. The Women’s League’s Fetty Mnguni said they were calling for no bail.
“We are saying no bail to the abductors. We are not going to allow our children and women to be victims of abuse and child kidnapping. We are saying no bail today, no bail at all.”
The three accused needed to be transported back to the Johannesburg Prison in time, so the matter was adjourned before 4pm.
The bail application would continue on Friday.
(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho, additional reporting by Jannie du Plessis.)