Questions about the police’s conduct sent to Police Minister Fikile Mbalula remained unanswered late on Thursday.
JOHANNESBURG – “If these bastards had acted on Tuesday when we first reported the case, we wouldn’t be here right now and Kitso would be home.”
This was the rage expressed by Alec Mothibe towards officers from Johannesburg Central police station, who he alleges turned a deaf ear to pleas for assistance in locating his 13-year-old niece who has been missing for three weeks.
Kitso’s family told The Star they had been trying since Tuesday to get the police to raid a dilapidated building in the Joburg CBD, which they said was where the child was being held.
Her father, Kabelo Matsatsi, explained how the family had been walking the streets of Joburg with a picture of his daughter in his hand, asking vagrants around the city whether they had seen Kitso.
Matsatsi added that they received reliable information from multiple sources that she was in a run-down building on the corner of Jeppe and Nugget streets.
When he went to the station on Tuesday to ask the police for assistance, he claims he was told police couldn’t go into the building as it was a “no-go area”.
When he told the social worker handling Kitso’s missing person case, she went to the station again on Thursday – where he said they received harsher treatment.
“The social worker actually thought I was lying to her, so she said we should go together to the station. When we went to the police station, she (the social worker) was told to her face by a Captain Letsela, if I’m not mistaken, who said the police were scared to go in there – they will never go in there,” Matsatsi said.
The social worker then asked the policeman: “Will you open a case or not?”
The captain allegedly said: “No, we’re not going to open a case; there is no case.”
On Thursday afternoon, however, a large number of police officers descended on the Joburg CBD to raid at least two separate dilapidated buildings in an effort to find the teenager.
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele countered Matsatsi’s assertion of the police not wanting to assist, saying officers could not go into the building without back-up.
“As you can see, we have deployed a lot of police officers – even from the metro police – to come and make sure they search the premises. And, as we are searching, we haven’t found the child, but we will continue to search for her – using the information we are getting,” Makhubele said.
Young Kitso had still not been found on Thursday night when the police were conducting searches across the CBD, leaving her parents distraught that the trauma of the past three weeks was set to continue.
“It has been a nightmare, I don’t know when the last time we had a proper meal was – it has been terrible. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy because this is the worst thing ever – but I won’t give up until I find my daughter,” Matsatsi said, while choking up with tears.
Asked how he felt about the police’s treatment, Matsatsi said it was a shame that he had to “scream and yell” to get assistance, but he would continue to do so in order to find his daughter.
The missing teen’s mother, who asked to remain anonymous, said that when her daughter left their Joubert Street home three weeks ago, she thought Kitso had gone out with friends.
It’s only when the 13-year-old didn’t arrive home that night that she became worried and told the father, who lives in Soweto.
Makhubele said that a Tanzanian man, going by the name “Nature” and a known drug dealer, was thought to be holding Kitso captive.
Anyone with information to help the police in finding Kitso should contact Johannesburg Central police station on 011 497 7535/7122.