Cops say Florida child snatching incident not linked to human trafficking

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While cases of human trafficking are taken very seriously, the recent alleged attempted kidnapping at a Roodepoort restaurant was not such a case, according to police.

Following recent posts on social media, national police commissioner General Khehla John Sitole highlighted the seriousness with which police and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) were dealing with human trafficking and other closely related crimes.

On Thursday, a man allegedly grabbed a four-year-old girl at a pizza restaurant in Florida, Roodepoort. The owner of Bella Napoli Italian Kitchen, Dishal Sooku, managed to subdue the man before he was arrested. Video footage of the incident went viral.

The man arrested for the incident, Naseem Slamang, appeared in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said the incident was a stark reminder of the realities of these types of crimes.

“While the suspect was charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and this was not a case of human trafficking, this has been a reminder to both the authorities as well as every inhabitant of this country of the level of vigilance we need to employ to ensure that people are and feel safe,” Naidoo said.

“Even though human trafficking is not prevalent in South Africa as it is in other parts of the world, we must adopt a collective approach, ensuring that not a single person, man, woman or child, becomes a victim of this crime.

“We have had sporadic reports in the past of young people, especially females, that were allegedly lured away from their homes on the promise of lucrative jobs only to find themselves being trafficked for s.e.x.”

Naidoo said cases of kidnappings, abductions, and missing persons were also areas of serious concern to the police.

“The SAPS, together with other government departments, have put both proactive and reactive interventions in place to decisively deal with such cases. Each of these crimes are committed under different circumstances and with different motivations.

“Persons may be reported missing following a crime that may have been committed, like murder, kidnapping, abduction, or the missing person may have just simply run away from home. Whatever the circumstances, such must be reported immediately to the police and there is no waiting period for such a matter to get reported.”

Naidoo said someone was deemed kidnapped if such a person was removed against his or her consent and deprived of his or her freedom of movement for ransom. A person is deemed abducted if such a person is removed from the custody of his or her parents for the purpose of marriage or s.e.xual intercourse. However, if such a person is under the age of 16, then the act of s.e.xual intercourse would constitute rape.

“The seriousness at which these crimes are being attended to is also highlighted by the fact that they are either investigated by specialized units, such as the Hawks or the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS),” Naidoo added.

“We are appealing to anyone who may have information on these crime categories, preferably before they are committed, to contact the SAPS on our Crime Stop number on 086 00 10111. Information may also be communicated via the My SAPS app.”

Naidoo said all information would be treated with the strictest confidence and callers may remain anonymous.

-The Citizen

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