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March 5, 2024, 10:15 am
World

South African navy search for missing six-year-old girl

Fiji TV Team
| etoga@fijitv.com.fj
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South Africa’s navy has joined the search for a six-year-old girl which has transfixed the country.

Joslin Smith disappeared from outside her home in Saldanha Bay, near Cape Town, two weeks ago.

The 300 naval officers join rescuers from the City of Cape Town, a dog unit and drones in the desperate search.

Many are asking why she still hasn’t been located. A child goes missing every five hours in South Africa, but most are found.

Investigators are confident of a breakthrough after bloodied clothing was found in an open field nearby.

The items, discovered on Saturday, have been sent to a forensic laboratory for further analysis.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa told the BBC the naval officers were dispatched on Monday to help follow any leads.

It is not common for the navy to assist with civilian searches but they can do so if asked by police.

Saldanha Bay mayor André Truter predicted it would be a “big day” for search operations.

“I stood in amazement when I saw how many people from so many different organizations, led by SAPS [South African Police Service], focused on getting the job done! It gave me new hope for finding little Joslin,” Mr Truter said.

Frantic community members searched sewers and pits across the area in the days following the girl’s disappearance, with an angry mob also taking to searching homes and accosting neighbours, said Mr Truter.

A 100,000 rand ($5,200; £4,100) reward has been offered to anyone with information on her whereabouts, with social media filled with hopes and prayers that Joslin will be found alive.

She was left in the care of her mother’s boyfriend, Jacquin Appollis, in an informal settlement, when she went missing.

He could not account for her whereabouts, police said.

However, he has denied any involvement in her disappearance.

Joslin’s mother told local publication The Daily Voice she was not giving up hope.

“My motherly instincts are telling me my daughter is still alive and in this area. We will find her, I will walk on foot to find her. I will look in every little shack, I’m going to do it by myself if I have to.”

The couple have been accused by some community members of having a hand in their daughter’s disappearance, a charge they have both denied.

They have since been moved to a safehouse for their own safety.

Brig Potelwa said the public should not spread false information about Joslin’s disappearance or share recordings from the search operations.

“This may adversely impact the investigation. The primary focus of the coordinated efforts should be to find Joslin or what happened to her.”

(Source: BBC)