Father of missing Wattville child pleads for her safe return as remains of another child are found

13 October 2022 - 05:45
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Bokgabo Poo, aged four, was last seen on Monday about 4pm playing in Masoleng Park with a five-year-old boy.
Bokgabo Poo, aged four, was last seen on Monday about 4pm playing in Masoleng Park with a five-year-old boy.
Image: Supplied

The father of missing four-year-old Bokgabo Poo, who was last seen on Monday about 4pm playing in Masoleng Park in the Wattville township of Benoni in Ekurhuleni is pleading for her safe return.

The little girl, with a distinct scar on her nose, was last seen wearing a purple vest with Sofia cartoon print, orange shorts and red and white flip-flop sandals.

According to her father, Irvin Ndlovu, Bokgabo had been playing at the park with a five-year-old boy from the same neighbourhood. He said he had been told that the two children were approached by a stranger who offered to buy them sweets.

However, the man gave the money to the boy and sent him to the shop alone while he remained with Bokgabo. 

“When (the boy) returned, they were not there. What we are taking from this is that the man actually moved the boy away so that he could steal my daughter,” said Ndlovu. 

He said he learnt of his daughter's disappearance when her mother called him on Monday about 6pm.

“The mother called me and said 'Irvin, where is the child?' She said the child is missing,” he said.

An intense search was launched with scores of community members and patrollers immediately joining the search for the little girl. Since then, footage has been secured, depicting what seems to be Bokgabo, walking away with the unidentified man. 

The footage was captured on a CCTV camera from a house near the park. It shows Bokgaba innocently skipping and frolicking alongside the man. 

While the face of the man was not clear, he seems to be walking quite fast and Bokgabo happily following beside him.

Ndlovu said he had seen the footage.

“Judging from the footage, she seems to be familiar with the person she is walking with,” said Ndlovu.

“You can see her walking, jumping up and down. She was comfortable walking with the person which makes us think that it could be someone she knows very well,” he said.

“It could be that she knew the guy, or maybe she was just bribed with sweets or perhaps she was told your mom or dad is looking for you in that car or over there... maybe she was lured by that,” Ndlovu said.

I would trade my life for my daughter
Irvin Ndlovu

Ndlovu said he would do anything to get his daughter back.

To her abductor, he said: “You have killed a part of me by taking her away. Since it happened on Monday I haven’t eaten until this morning.  I only ate when I finished with my DNA [sampling] because I believed there was a bit of hope ... I ate something but what about her? What is she doing? What is she eating? How is she? I know that my daughter is someone who likes to scream and cry when she is in uncomfortable spaces so I can only imagine her screams right now,” he said.

Ndlovu said a deep part of him is lost.

“I would like to say to the guy that he has taken a deep part of me and I would like him to return it to me.  I would do whatever it takes. I would trade my life for my daughter. She is the only one I have. I have two children and she is the first. The brother is just a year old and he has been so restless ever since this happened. He actually needs his sister too so I would plead with the man who ever took her to bring her back,” he said. 

Ndlovu described his daughter as a people's person who is jolly and popular in the community. Sadly, he says, his daughter wouldn't refuse offers from strangers as she was a friendly child.

As the family and community continues on its search for Bokgabo, a mutilated body of another child was discovered in another section of Wattville, known as Tamboville.

Police spokesperson Lt-Col Mavela Masondo said police have opened a case of murder after the discovery of the corpse. 

“It is reported that a 63-year-old woman was sweeping her yard when she noticed the toes of a human being surfacing from the ground. She called the neighbours who then called the police. Several role players from the police were summoned to the scene and a leg of a child was found in a shallow grave,” Masondo said.

Masondo said as the police were processing the scene, they were informed about the body of a child in an open veld, about 800m away from the house where the leg was found.

He said the pieces formed what was believed to be a human body. 

Kenny Ranyawo, councillor for Ward 30, Wattville area, said they were alerted to the incident.

“We can definitely say it's not the child that is missing because it looks like the body has been there for a couple of days or weeks but the forensics will confirm... Whether the limbs are related to the torso, we await confirmation from the experts. If it's different bodies it means there would be two other children missing and found in this state,” said Ranyawo.

He said they cannot yet conclude there is a serial child abductor in the community.

Bokgabo's troubled father faced the grim task of heading to the scene where the body was discovered. He and Bokgabo's mother have since been subjected to DNA tests to rule out the possibility that it could be her remains that were found. 

“When I looked at that body, it was not recognisable. The body was burnt. There were parts that were missing. I didn’t want to believe that it’s her, hence today we went to do a DNA test and it’s the only thing that can tell the whole truth,” said Ndlovu. 

“There is hope that we will find her. We just need to be told that [the body] is not her.”

Ndlovu is hopeful that he will find his daughter alive. 

Ndlovu said he was overwhelmed by the positive response from the community who have been helping in the search.

“We feel their presence,” he said.

Missing Child South Africa said they have two missing children cases reported in the Benoni area.

However, the organisation said there might be more children missing but these were the only ones reported to them thus far.

The organisation has advised parents to educate themselves on child safety.

Meanwhile, police have confirmed that a kidnapping case has been opened for Bokgabo.


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