EL schools, parents on high alert after abduction scare

The East London community has been left reeling following allegations of attempted child abductions last week. On Thursday, the SAPS issued a warning to community members to be vigilant after two reported cases of attempted kidnapping in Vincent and Cambridge.

One of the mothers targeted, Teoda Marcus, from Gonubie, said she was walking to her car after fetching her son from school  when she was approached by a man looking for directions.

SAFETY FIRST: Red Alert has stationed about 10 armed response vehicles outside various primary schools in East London Picture: SUPPLIED.

 Marcus said she gave the man the directions and when she went to the side of the car, the man tried to open the passenger side where her son was. When she  asked him what he was doing, the man pushed her and walked away.

“When I got to the police station to report what had happened, there was another mother who was also opening a case because a man had walked into her son’s school in Cambridge and acted as if he was looking for his child. When she described him to me, it sounded like the same guy.”  who had approached me.”

Following the reports, schools issued warnings to pupils and as well as parents.

Bellafides Private School principal, Clarissa Masola said vigilance and talking to your children about how to react around strangers was the key to be safe in these situations.

Masola said they were fortunate that no one could get into their school grounds unless  permitted entry by the office. However, not all schools have such a system in place.

“Parents need to make sure their children are educated about ‘Stranger Danger’. Don’t think it can’t happen to your child. I hear parents say my child will never go off with someone and then we see those children happily talking to another parent they do not know on the playground. Children can be very trusting when someone is sweet-talking and kind and offers them a treat or toy,” . Do not take chances, educate your child,” she said.

AW Barnes Primary School’s principal, Geoffrey Gamiet said they had informed parents and children in their school about the incidences.

“We have told the children not to go with people they don’t know and to not to get in a car they don’t know, to be safe rather than sorry,” said the principal.

Selborne Primary School, as well as Cambridge Primary School, also issued a statement about safety for children.

Red Alert shared safety tips for children and parents:

Young children should:

  • Never say they are alone if they answer the phone. They can offer to take a message or say their parents will phone back;
  • Never answer the door if they are alone;
  • Do not invite anyone into the house without the permission of a parent or babysitter;
  • Do not go into people’s houses without letting anyone know; where they are.
  • Never play in deserted buildings or isolated areas.

Parents should:

  • Avoid clothing and toys with your child’s name on it. A child is less likely to fear someone that knows their name.
  • Check all potential babysitters and older friends of your child;
  • Never leave a child alone in a public place, a pramstroller or car, not even for a minute;
  • Always accompany young children to the bathroom in a public place and advise them never to play in or around the area;
  • Keep an up-to-date colour photograph of your child, a medical and dental history, and have your child fingerprinted.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Red Alert regional manager Brett Harvey said they had about 10 vehicles stationed outside a number of primary schools in East London.

“We have parked our armed response vehicles outside multiple schools in the mornings and during pick up time to show our presence. We will be doing this until the threat has gone. We are trying to reassure parents that their children are safe,” said Harvey.

Cambridge police spokesperson captain Mluleki Mbi said two cases have been reported and no arrests have been made.

He warned schools and parents to be vigilant.


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