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Confession rumours swirl as fourth suspect arrested in Joshlin Smith disappearance case 

Confession rumours swirl as fourth suspect arrested in Joshlin Smith disappearance case 
Lorentia Lombaard, the fourth accused charged in connection with the disappearance of Joshlin Smith, briefly appeared in the Vredenburg Magistrate Court on Monday. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

A fourth suspect has been arrested and appeared in the Vredenburg Magistrates Court in connection with the disappearance of six-year-old Joshlin Smith and has allegedly made a confession. However, at this point, the confession is part of the investigation and cannot be made public by the state.

Lorentia Lombaard, 32, originally from Wolseley, near Ceres, appeared briefly in the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Yoliso Sipoyo on Monday.

When prosecutor Jacques van Zyl was asked by Sipoyo how the accused was linked to the matter while reading out the charges of human trafficking and kidnapping, he said “the accused made a confession”.

Lombaard now joins co-accused, Racquel Chantel Smith (also known as Kelly Smith), the mother of missing Joshlin (6), her boyfriend Jacquen Appollis and Steveno van Rhyn, who face charges of kidnapping and human trafficking stemming from Joshlin’s disappearance.

The case against Phumza Siqaqa, who was originally charged with Smith, Appollis and Van Rhyn, was dropped after the State determined there was insufficient evidence linking her to the case.

Joshlin went missing on 19 February near Tsitsiratsitsi, Middelpos, Saldanha. Her mother stated that the last time she saw her daughter was when she left for work at approximately 8 am the same day. Smith claimed that she left the little girl with her boyfriend, Appollis.

But Joshlin was absent when Smith arrived home around 5 pm. It has been 29 days since Joshlin went missing, and police have yet to locate her.

Lorentia Lombaard

Lorentia Lombaard in the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

A subdued crowd waited outside court for updates on Joshlin’s whereabouts and was interested in hearing about news of a confession.

During last week’s court appearance, the crowd pelted police with stones, and a female police constable was struck in the face with a brick before being taken to a nearby hospital. Police used stun grenades and tear gas to restore order.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Joshlin Smith accused bail hearing sees violence flare, police attacked outside court”

On Monday, Veronique Pretorius, a community leader, told Daily Maverick: “If Lorentia had confessed, the accused must have told police what happened to Joshlin or where she is.

“We, as a community, are not interested in confessions. What we want to know as a community is where Joshlin is and what happened to her.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Pojie, a police spokesperson, shed light on the investigation, explaining that it is standard procedure during such complex investigations to question or interview people of interest in order to solve a case.

“As such, in the interest of solving this case and finding Joshlin, we cannot disclose operational detail and give a blow-to-blow account as the investigation into finding Joshlin Smith unfolds as this can potentially jeopardise ongoing investigation,” he said.

Social media rumour mill muddies waters

SAPS’ comments came amidst an amateur TikTok investigation which ran parallel with that of investigators. The TikTok influencers involved go as far as showing live interviews they have conducted with alleged suspects and feeding the larger community with claims not substantiated by SAPS.

Among the fake social media videos circulating is the claim that six-year-old Joslin Smith’s body has been discovered. Videos interfering with SAPS’ investigation showed a suspect allegedly being arrested by members and TikTok influencers conducting interviews with various individuals claiming to know what happened to Joshlin.

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

Reagan Allen, Western Cape MEC for police oversight and community safety, welcomed Lombaard’s arrest and stated that the SAPS is diligently continuing its investigation into young Joshin Smith.

Alle reiterated that the other three suspects, including the six-year-old’s mother, must urgently provide the relevant information about Joshlin’s whereabouts so that she can be safely reunited with her siblings and extended family.

“We’ve reached a critical stage in the investigation and it is important that speculation and hearsay come to an immediate end. I encourage anyone with information to make it available to the SAPS, so that all leads are followed up. We have to find Joslin unharmed,” Allen explained.

Human trafficking

In a separate human trafficking case, the Western Cape Serious Organised Crime Investigation (Hawks), in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs, Strand SAPS, and Strand Neighborhood Watch, arrested Patience Precious Abudu (33) on Thursday, March 14 on charges of human trafficking.

According to Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Siyabulela Vukubi, on December 16, 2023, two young foreign nationals were rescued from a home in George after it was discovered that they had been allegedly trafficked into South Africa.

During her arrest, police discovered Abudu with two passports, several bank cards, and R29,000 in cash. She appeared at the George Magistrates’ Court on Friday, March 2024, and the matter has been remanded to Tuesday, March 19, 2024, to determine the date for bail application.

Meanwhile, Lombaard will be back in court on Monday, March 25 for bail information. Once the court has decided whether she will apply for bail or abandon it, she will return to the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on May 13 with the other three accused. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Daniel Sass says:

    The story of Joshlin is tragic and one hope that she is found and justice prevail. Why does maverick not show light on ehat is happening in the tragic and traumatic violence like Elsies River. Overwhelming police numbers raided a house in The Range. There were severe community protests. Rumour exist that one child was killed by police fire and two injured and in hospital. Previous violence and killings stay unreported. The mainstream media are colluding to keep violence under wraps in certain areas in Cape Town. Reporting is skewed and selective.

    • Terril Scott says:

      News24 reported fully on this. Community violence against the police resulted in a death that could have been avoided had everyone just let the police do their job without interference.

  • Peter Vos says:

    This case makes me ashamed to be a member of the human race.

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