A teacher at the primary school where a 6-year-old girl was wrenched from her mother’s hands as she dropped her off has been arrested in connection with the kidnapping that stoked so much attention in South Africa.
After a 19-hour ordeal, 6-year-old Amy-Lee de Jager, the daughter of a speedboat star, was dropped off in the streets, unharmed, after the story of her kidnap went viral and made her “too hot to handle.”
She was kidnapped as she was dropped at school in the town of Vanderbijlpark on the morning of Sept. 2, according to local reports, and dragged off with enough force to leave her mother with a shoulder injury as she fought in vain.
The kidnappers had reportedly demanded a 2 million rand ($130,000) ransom.
Police have now arrested three individuals over the kidnap, including one who was confirmed by the school in a statement to work as an “educator” at the school.
The school said that rumors that the person was the 6-year-old’s own teacher were untrue.
The South African Police Service said in a statement on Sept. 5 that two women aged 27 and 40 had been arrested along with a 50-year-old man at their homes in Vanderbijlpark.
One of the women was known to the girl’s parents, according to police, which appears to confirm claims by TimesLIVE, citing several sources, that the arrested teacher was a “very good” friend of the kidnapped girl’s mother.
After a desperate campaign to find the 6-year-old that flooded the media and social media, the South African Police Service reported on Sept. 3 that the 6-year-old had been found.
“The people dropped her off in the streets and a woman and a man heard her crying and rushed her to the police station,” her aunt, Louise Horn, told TimesLIVE.
“It was the longest 19 hours of our lives. We are really glad she’s back with us.”
In contradiction to earlier reports, according to Horn, no ransom was paid.
Once the 6-year-old had been reunited with her parents, according to Horn, “the first thing she asked for was a burger and her brother.”
Her parents were traumatized and heartbroken, said Horn. “It’s going to be a long road of recovery for all of them.”
Her family members told the TimesLIVE that she hadn’t been hurt by the ordeal.
As news of her abduction spread, a massive campaign had flooded social media with pictures of the 6-year-old, as missing person organizations, the media, family, and school encouraged users to spread them online.
A police source told the Mirror that she had become “too hot to handle” for the kidnappers. “Her photo was all over the internet and the news and we think they thought they were better off cutting their losses and ditching Amy-Lee.”
Wonderful news! Amy Lee de Jager had been found safe. No further information is available at this stage and a statement…
According to the official police statement, the kidnappers released her because they knew “that the net was closing in on them.”
The College Park Primary School, where she had been snatched outside the gates, wrote in an earlier statement: “Amy-Lee has been found. Thank you for everyone’s help and prayers. We serve a great and almighty God.”
Amy'Leigh is gevind. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏Dankie vir almal se hulp en gebede. Ons dien ñ Groot en Almagtige God❤️(Nog geen verdere inligting is deurgegee nie.)
Police said that they are satisfied that they had collared the three main people responsible for the kidnapping.