Kidnappers who snatched six-year-old girl from mother’s arms at South African school had originally grabbed her brother, five – but changed their mind and took the girl, court hears
- Powerboat racer’s daughter, Amy-Leigh de Jager, was snatched outside school
- She was taken from her mother’s arms near Johannesburg but then found safe
- Police believe the kidnappers tried to grab her five-year-old brother, Jayden, first
- It is thought the kidnapping was done so £110,000 ransom could be demanded
A gang of kidnappers who grabbed a South African schoolgirl from her mother’s arms originally tried to snatch her five-year-old brother, a court heard.
Amy-Leigh de Jager was taken from her mother Angeline’s arms outside her school near Johannesburg on the morning of September 2.
Police believe the youngster was taken in order to collect a £110,000 ransom to pay off a drug debt.
The daughter of powerboat racer Wynand de Jager, the six-year-old was eventually rescued after her abductors got spooked by the media coverage and abandoned her on a street corner in Vanderbijlpark, close to where she was taken.
At Vanderbijlpark Magistrates’ Court today, Tharina Human (left) Laetitia Nel (centre) and Pieter Jacobus van Zyl (right) arrived for a bail hearing
Amy-Leigh de Jager with her brother Jayden. Police said kidnappers who snatched Amy-Leigh initially tried to take her sibling first
Tharina Human (right), a teacher from Johannesburg, is accused of masterminding a plot to kidnap the six-year-old daughter of friend Angeline de Jager (left) from her class in order to collect a £110,000 ransom
School teacher Tharina Human, 27, Laetitia Nel, 40, and Pieter Jacobus van Zyl, 50, have been charged over the kidnapping, but it is not clear what authorities believe their role to be in the incident.
At a bail application hearing today, investigating officer, Constable Clayton Motloung, told the court a suspect who is still at large is thought to have tried to snatch the five-year-old boy but left him and kidnapped Amy-Leigh instead before fleeing in a white Toyota Fortuner.
Police are still hunting for four men who are said to have carried out the kidnapping.
Motloung also said that the alleged kidnappers’ plan was originally to take Human, before they decided to snatch her eight-year-old daughter, local media reports.
Eventually the suspects then changed their minds and decided to take Amy-Leigh, according to News 24.
Human reportedly shook her head and had a smile on her face while Motloung addressed the court.
Teacher Tharina Human arriving in court today with her two co-accused. She is charged over the kidnap of her friend’s daughter outside her own school
Amy-Leigh (left), who is the daughter of racer Wynand de Jager (second left) was snatched from her mother Angeline de Jager (right). Her brother Jayden (front centre) was said to have been grabbed first by the gang before they switched to his sister
Amy-Leigh (right) was returned to Angeline (left) the day after kidnappers apparently got spooked by the amount of media coverage and abandoned the girl in the street near a pub
But when the accused first arrived at the school they grabbed hold of Amy-Leigh’s brother Jayden, five.
Motloung told the court: ‘It was four of them – the initial plan was to kidnap accused one [Human] by accused two [Nel] and accused three [Van Zyl] so that the family of accused one [Human] could come and bail her out.’
It has not been made clear what police believe Nel and Jacobus van Zyl’s role in the kidnap plot was.
Reports in South Africa also revealed that, shortly after Amy-Leigh was kidnapped earlier this month, Human sent a series of WhatsApp voice notes to parents saying their kids were safe but there were ‘sickos out there’.
She also asked for money for ‘flowers and a hamper’ for Amy-Leigh’s parents.
Human was arrested in a midnight raid on September 4, the day after Amy-Leigh was discovered abandoned on a street corner at 2am by a couple who had just left a pub, and walked to a nearby police station.
This is believed to be the room where Amy-Leigh was kept for 19 hours by four men who kidnapped her – who remain at large – before she was dumped on the street