Cape Times

NPA on why it dropped charges against one of Joshlin’s accused

- CHEVON BOOYSEN Chevon.booysen@inl.co.za

POLICE have received informatio­n on the whereabout­s of missing 6-yearold Joshlin Smith, according to the National Prosecutin­g Authority (NPA).

This emerged yesterday as charges of traffickin­g and kidnapping were withdrawn against one of the accused in the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court.

Phumza Sigaqa was released after charges against her were withdrawn by the State, while Jacquen Appolis, Steveno van Rhyn and Racquel “Kelly” Smith abandoned their bail applicatio­ns.

NPA spokespers­on Eric Ntabazalil­a said the investigat­ion could not positively link Sigaqa to Joshlin’s disappeara­nce.

“We can confirm that charges have been withdrawn at this stage and it will depend on what comes from the investigat­ion if charges against her could be reinstated. The charges had to be withdrawn as there is no evidence linking her at this stage.

“We’ve requested a postponeme­nt for investigat­ion, which we believe must be followed up. Police have told us that there is informatio­n they received on the whereabout­s of the child. There are also still witness statements which need to be done and cellphone data analysis,” said Ntabazalil­a.

As the accused were led out of court, Smith burst into tears when she recognised family members in the public gallery after they asked about her well-being.

Provincial police commission­er Thembisile Patekile said their focus remained on the search for the missing child, who had disappeare­d from her home in Middelpos, Saldanha, on February 19. She was last seen wearing a light blue T-shirt and light blue denim shorts and is alleged to have been trafficked for R20 000.

Patekile said they respect the court’s decision relating to the withdrawal of charges against Sigaqa.

“That does not mean the investigat­ion ends there. The investigat­ion continues where we have two ultimate goals – to find the child

and to secure a conviction and sentence. That is why if the court withdraws charges against one accused, we respect the decision as we still have three others in court facing charges,” said Patekile.

Violent clashes between the residents and police erupted outside the court, and Patekile confirmed that a female officer was taken to hospital after being hit in the face with an object.

Police used stun grenades, tear gas and barbed wire to control the crowd. No one was arrested, said Patekile.

“We cannot condone public violence. Our main function is to prevent crime and now for the community to attack our members, unprovoked, is unacceptab­le. I have directed that an investigat­ion be done and a case of public violence is being investigat­ed,” said Patekile.

Appolis, Van Rhyn and Smith remain in custody until their next court appearance on May 13.

 ?? | PATRICK LOUW ?? TENSIONS were high outside the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday where the mother of missing six-year-old Joshlin Smith, Racquel ‘Kelly’ Smith appeared alongside her boyfriend Jacquen Appolis and Steveno van Rhyn, while charges were withdrawn against a fourth suspect in the case, Phumza Sigaqa.
| PATRICK LOUW TENSIONS were high outside the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday where the mother of missing six-year-old Joshlin Smith, Racquel ‘Kelly’ Smith appeared alongside her boyfriend Jacquen Appolis and Steveno van Rhyn, while charges were withdrawn against a fourth suspect in the case, Phumza Sigaqa.

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