Johannesburg-The Moloi* family in Modimong village near Taung in the North-West was happy to be reunited with their daughter, Lerato*, 11, after she went missing for almost two weeks.
Lerato left home on Christmas Day after being lured by her alleged ‘boyfriend’ on Facebook – who tragically turned out to be a full grown man.
According to Lerato’s father, John, 55, his daughter met the suspect on Facebook before they allegedly engaged in a romantic relationship.
“We had not seen Lerato since Christmas Day and her phone was off. We thought maybe she slept at her cousins’ place, but we were gobsmacked when no one knew of her whereabouts.
“Her cousins said she had gone to town to meet someone. On December 26, we went to the Taung police station and opened a missing person case.
“Unfortunately, the police requested us to go back and get the missing person’s photo,” Moloi said.
He said they returned to the police station the following day but he was crestfallen when he arrived home and saw that the police had not opened a case. They made him to write an affidavit instead.
“I went back again to the same police station and I was not happy with the service I received. At least the police started to act after I called the North West police deputy provincial commissioner, major-general Patrick Asaneng for assistance.
“At that moment, I was confused, and I want to laud the community of Modimong for their swift response as they embarked on a searching spree tirelessly. Fortunately, on January 3, Lerato’s phone was on and I managed to communicate with her. But our conversation was short as her phone went off again.”
The next day, a neighbour’s child saw Lerato at a Joburg Taxi Rank next to Park Station. She was in the company of two men.
When asked what she was doing in town, Lerato allegedly said the two men were her uncles.
“Those men gave her a contact number and we managed to speak to them. The police traced that cellphone and Lerato was found at a house in Olifantsfontein in Gauteng staying with her alleged boyfriend.”
North West police spokesperson Colonel Adele Myburgh said the suspect, a Zimbabwean man aged 42, was charged with statutory rape.
“The victim was found staying with her alleged boyfriend whom she met and started dating via Facebook. She was taken for medical treatment and reunited with her family. The suspect was arrested and charged with statutory rape.”
The suspect will appear in court again on Friday.
* Not real names.
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