Police probe alleged abduction

A case of rape was opened at the Steenberg Police Station after a 15-year-old girl from a Southern Suburbs school was abducted by unknown men in a white car while she was on her way to school on Thursday 23 August.

No arrests were made and the case docket has been forwarded to the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit. The learner was reportedly abducted and allegedly sexually assaulted.

Last month the provincial department of education received reports of two kidnappings in the Zonnebloem area and one attempted abduction in Rylands.

Constable Wesley Twigg, spokesperson of Steenberg police, confirmed a case of rape was opened.

In a press statement, Debbie Schäfer, provincial minister of education, said the abduction raises concerns for learners who travel alone to and from school, especially girls. “The learner reported that men in a white BMW, with tinted windows, stopped next to her and pulled her into the car, before driving around with her for hours. The matter has been reported to the Steenberg police and the learner has received medical attention. A school social worker and psychologist are also providing counselling to the learner and her family,” she said.

She said schools need to ensure safety measures are in place at dismissal time.

“Learners who are picked up at their school by parents or caregivers, should remain within the school property until they have visibly identified their mode of transport. Learners who require public transport and are expected to walk to their relevant departure areas, should travel in groups at all times. However, where feasible, parents must please arrange that this is as close to the school as possible,” she said.

Schools should ensure that learners are aware of “stranger danger”. The head of department, Brian Schreuder, also issued communication to schools to remind them to review and update their safety policies, particularly around access control and to ensure that procedures are in place to deal with reported abduction cases.

Any incidents should be reported to the police immediately. “While I understand that it is difficult for the extremely under resourced police to patrol every road that learners travel on, I urge them to please increase patrols during the morning and afternoons when learners are travelling to and from schools. I also urge parents and community members to be extra vigilant and to report any suspicious vehicles or persons immediately to the SAPS,” Schäfer said.

She advised learners, parents and teachers to request support and counselling.

V Call the Safe Schools Centre on 0800 45 46 47.