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MISSING CHILD

Joshlin’s mother, three others in dock, police ‘a step closer’ to finding her

Joshlin’s mother, three others in dock, police ‘a step closer’ to finding her
Jacquen Appollis, Steveno van Rhyn, Racquel Chantel Smith (Joshlin’s mother) and Phumza Sigaqa in the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on 7 March 2024 facing kidnapping and trafficking charges relating to Joshlin’s disappearance. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Joshlin Smith was last seen 17 days ago. While the search for her continues, her mother and boyfriend were among four people who appeared in court on Thursday facing charges of kidnapping.

Racquel Chantel Smith, also known as Kelly, the mother of missing Joshlin (6), and her boyfriend, Jacquen Appollis, are among four people who have been charged with trafficking in persons for the purpose of exploitation, and kidnapping.

Racquel Chantel Smith, also known as Kelly, appears in Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court facing kidnapping and trafficking charges relating to the disappearance of  her daughter, Joshlin Smith. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

The two, along with co-accused Steveno van Rhyn and Phumza Sigaqa, appeared briefly in the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has brought in one of its heavyweights, senior advocate Aradhana Heeramun, to handle the case. 

The four accused appeared before Magistrate Theresa Posthma. 

The charges read: “Count 1 trafficking in persons for the purpose of exploitation in that on or about 19 February 2024 to 5 March and at or near Tsitsiratsitsi, Middelpos, Saldanha, the accused, acting together and in the execution of furtherance of a common purpose, unlawfully and intentionally sold, delivered and exchanged Joshlin.”

A huge crowd gathers outside court during the case involving the disappearance of Joshlin Smith (6) at the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on 7 March 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

The crowd outside the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on 7 March 2024 in Vredenburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

On the kidnapping charges the State contends that on or about the same period the accused unlawfully and intentionally deprived Joshlin of her freedom of movement to such an extent that her true whereabouts are still unknown to the State.

Joshlin went missing on 19 February in Diazville, Saldanha. At the time, Joshlin’s mother said the last time she saw her daughter was when she left for work on 19 February at about 8am. She left the little girl with her boyfriend, Appollis. When she returned home at about 5pm, Joshlin was not there, she said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Police scale down search for six-year-old Joslin Smith after a week with no leads.”

On Tuesday, 5 March, police continued their search for the missing child, moving to the Saldanha Bay refuse dump where officers sifted through more than 100,000 tonnes of rubbish.

One step closer

Following the court proceedings, Western Cape MEC for police oversight and community safety Reagen Allen said they were one step closer to finding Joshlin or determining what happened to her.

“On Thursday, we noted the two particular charges in terms of human trafficking and kidnapping. We sincerely trust that the investigation will unfold in terms of what has happened to Joshlin, but we are still keeping hope alive, knowing that we want to outwardly find Joshlin,” he said.

Acting MEC for social development Nomafrench Mbombo told the media there were two other siblings (Joshlin’s mother’s children) with the families who are being cared for by the Department of Social Development. 

“For me as a mother, Friday is International Women’s Day, and we are still dealing with this type of issue, so my appeal is that we be able to identify Joshlin and find out where she is. It doesn’t matter if it comes as a body; that’s all we want to do,” she said.

Western Cape Police Commissioner Thembisile Patekile, asked whether more arrests would be made, said: “Any possibility is possible as the investigation leads to more people being arrested, and if the investigation leads to that, we will do so.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Search for Joslin — police grill four ‘people of interest’ while officers, dog unit scour Saldanha rubbish dump

“At this stage we do not have a child. Our ultimate goal is to find the child so that we can get closure. As we pray we still want to find that child alive. We are making an appeal to everyone to assist us to find this child,” he said.

A huge crowd forms outside during the kidnapping and trafficking case at the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on 7 March 2024 (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Patekile warned that anyone trying to interfere with the investigation will face the might of the law, saying that “there is a legislation in terms of the Cybercrime Act that a person can be charged for distributing false information, but that investigation is still ongoing”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Terrible and inhumane’ — fake news in continued search for Joshlin Smith condemned”

In court on Thursday, Patriotic Alliance TikTok influencers were told to leave because they were not part of the media. However, after a long debate, Ashley Sauls, a PA TikTok political influencer was allowed to live record proceedings for TikTok.

The accused have indicated they will seek legal representation. The case has been remanded for bail information until 13 March. DM

Previously, Daily Maverick had been using the missing girl’s first name Joslin, but has now switched to Joshlin, as it appears on the charge sheet.

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Awful

  • Alfreda Frantzen says:

    The mother!!! No words to describe such a horror story

  • Confucious Says says:

    Politics and NPA uselessness aside, I believe that SAPS is very good at catching these kinds of people. Well done! I hope you recover the little girl and prosecute those horrid people involved!

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Lets pray they find her alive
    You carried the child for 9 months and gave birth to her.
    She spent 6 years of her life with you and what did you do to her !!!
    Tears in Heaven

  • Ben Harper says:

    Mandatory sterilization for all of them and a lengthy jail sentence

  • Nicky Blooms says:

    Just disgusting!! I thought it was her partner alone, in a typical GBV case who harmed the child. Absolutely appalled to find out, her mum has been misleading everyone.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Vile foul creature.

  • Kathleen Olivier says:

    One cannot imagine the terror this beautiful little girl must have felt and the unimaginable horrors she might have experienced.
    I hope and trust they find her

  • District Six says:

    The horrid tragedy that is crystal meth. I have no words.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Child grants and easy money will be found to be the cause of this. Why single women continue to bear children and not care for them, just for money, is beyond the educated mind! Until this government stops rewarding those that cant care for their offspring and rather promotes and pays for better education and birth control, we are fighting a losing battle!
    The taxpayer has a right to say what should be done with their money – the more taxes you pay….the more votes you should get. In my opinion.

    • Tshepiso Ramushu says:

      So essentially – the more money you make, the more power you should have over our politics? isn’t this the problem we’re trying to fix?

      • Jane Crankshaw says:

        I don’t see it that way – at the moment the ‘fat cats’ dont pay taxes or rates…..time to fork out and relieve the burden that 20%of the population is shouldering just so the fat cats can feed at the trough! Put the taxpayers money into real wealth creation don’t just squander it on those just having kids to support their cellphones , Substance addiction or choice not to have a family unit where the father of these kids take some responsibility.

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