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Ship in Wales searched for Joshlin Smith, but six-year-old still nowhere to be found

Ship in Wales searched for Joshlin Smith, but six-year-old still nowhere to be found
There is still no trace of six-year-old Joshlin Smith of Saldanha Bay. (Photo: Supplied)

A Gauteng couple’s report to the international Human Trafficking Hotline Web Chat led to the Panamanian ship Frontier Asuka, which left Saldanha Bay harbour days after Joshlin Smith’s disappearance, being searched by authorities for nearly two days when it docked in Port Talbot, Wales.

Mark and Anouschika Hageman became involved in the search for Joshlin Smith after the Rev June Dolley-Major, who helped to search for Joshlin when she went missing on 19 February, told the Gauteng couple that the Panamanian ship Frontier Asuka had left the Port of Saldanha on 23 February.

joshlin hageman

Gauteng couple Mark and Anouschika Hageman’s request for help on the international human trafficking hotline web chat resulted a boat being searched in Port Talbot, Wales, for missing Joshlin Smith. (Photo: Supplied)

joshlin ship

The Panamanian ship Frontier Asuka was searched by authorities for evidence of Joshlin Smith for nearly two days when it docked in Port Talbot, Wales. (Photo: Supplied)

The Hagemans reported this to the international Human Trafficking Hotline Web Chat and after the boat docked in Port Talbot, Wales, the police searched it on Saturday, 16 March and Sunday, 17 March.

In a statement issued on 19 March, South Wales Police Chief Inspector Jason Herbert said that alongside colleagues from partner agencies, specialist South Wales police teams were deployed to the ship.

However, after a thorough examination of the vessel, no evidence was discovered of any missing person.

Boat tracker

Mark Hageman said that after being told the Frontier Asuka had left Saldanha Bay a few days after Joshlin went missing, he downloaded a boat tracker app and followed the ship’s route to Port Talbot.

“I initially contacted the Royal Navy command office in the United Kingdom. After receiving no response, I contacted Port Talbot, Wales, where the ship was on its way to from Saldanha Bay Harbour. I then contacted the Coast Guard on 3 March. They said that if there was an emergency, I could call the police at 999 in the United Kingdom.

“It was then that I decided to seek help from the international Human Trafficking Hotline Web Chat. On March 14, two days before the boat arrived in Talbot on March 16, I spoke with a representative at the office.”

joshlin human trafficking hotline

The reply and case number Mark Hageman received from Human Trafficking Hotline Web Chat.

Authorities in the UK were notified and the ship was searched.

“Although Joshlin was not found we felt relieved and it was as if a burden was lifted off our shoulders, because we, like all South Africans, want to know what happened to Joshlin,” Hageman said.


Police Minister Bheki Cele said during a recent interview with the SABC that a ship was searched in London after information had been received that Joshlin could be aboard.

@goggampie Joshlin Smith: Bheki Cele confirmed DNA of bloodied clothes does NOT belong to Joshlin. The search for Joshlin Smith has gone international, as Police Minister Bheki Cele confirmed that they have started working with Interpol to locate Joshlin. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 #JoshlinSmith #onsekind #Joshlin #joslinsmith #justiceforjoslin #saldanha #westerncape #southafrica #missingchild #missingchildren #bringjoshlinhome #southafricatiktok #southafricatiktok 🇿🇦 #interpol #cargoship #fyp #foryoupage #foryourpage #foryou #fypage #fypviral #fypシ #fypシ゚viral #fyppppppppppppppppppppppp #SAMA28 ♬ original sound – 𝗝𝗲𝘀𝘀

“The net has gone far beyond the borders of South Africa, working with sister organisations such as Interpol and other organisations. We hope to know one day where Joshlin is. The case back home in Saldanha is continuing and those people [the accused] have not told us exactly where we would find Joshlin,” Cele said.

He said clothing samples collected for DNA testing had not been linked to Joshlin.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Potential evidence in Joshlin Smith disappearance sent to forensics more than month after discovery 

joshlin smith

Mother Kelly Smith during the Joshlin Smith disappearance case at Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on 7 March 2024 in Vredenburg. (Photo: Brenton Geach / Gallo Images)

joshlin accused

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 lombaard

Lorentia Lombaard abandoned her attempt for bail in the Vredenburg Magistrates Court. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Joshlin went missing on 19 February near Tsitsiratsitsi in Saldanha. Her mother, Racquel Chantel Smith, claimed the last time she saw her daughter was when she left for work at about 8am that day.

She said she left the little girl with her boyfriend, Jacquin Appollis, and that Joshlin was not there when she arrived home at around 5pm.

joshlin smith ship wales

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

Those arrested in connection with Joshlin’s disappearance were Smith, Appollis, Steveno van Rhyn and Lorentia Lombaard. They face charges of kidnapping and human trafficking.

Smith, Appollis and Van Rhyn abandoned their bail applications in the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on 7 March, while Lombaard abandoned her bail application in the same court on 25 March.

The four accused will return to the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 13 May. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Sarah Western says:

    Have Mark and Anouschika Hageman undergone police questioning? If not, I would think that it would be correct and rigorous procedure to have them do so.

    • Mary Contrary says:

      I am also puzzled as to their involvement. Maybe they really hoped to help, perhaps they just wanted their pic in a national newspaper. Kudos to S Wales Police for searching so thoroughly when all other agencies knew this was a likely false lead. This poor child is probably dead somewhere close by, that’s nearly always the case.

  • Mayibuye Magwaza says:

    I’m extremely confused. What probable cause was there for searching the ship? What intelligence did this couple have that suggested the ship was involved? There’s a hole in the middle of this story.

  • No probable cause needed. When entering any border post anywhere in the world you can be searched and questioned with any probable cause existing.

  • District Six says:

    Poor child! Unbelievable tragedy.
    Since 1995, there are 3,712 children missing in SA. Scary indeed.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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