“We bring our children to school, and we don’t expect this to happen”
These are the words from a concerned parent of a Grade 5 pupil at Laerskool Kollegepark in Vanderbijlpark.
Sharon Ragebult was at the school to pick up her 11-year-old grandchild following a morning that saw a 6-year-old Grade R pupil being kidnapped outside the school.
Amy-Leigh de Jager was snatched by four men in front of the school at around 07:40 on Monday morning. She was loaded in a white Toyota Fortuner before it sped off.
Ragebult said she had heard on the news about what happened at the school and upon fetching her grandchild on Monday afternoon, she informed her of how she saw a teacher chasing after the getaway car.
“I came to pick up her (grandchild) , and she told me she actually saw a little [from what happened]. She said when she came to school, she saw a white Fortuner driving away and a teacher chasing after the car… And they rushed into the class, and the teacher said they must all pray,” Ragebult said.
The grandparent said the incident outside the school came as a shock because they do not expect such an event to happen when they drop their kids off at school in the morning.
Ragebult said despite the incident; there were no security concerns at the school
“This is one of the best schools, this much I can tell you. We all fear for them, and I feel sorry for the parents of the little girl that has been taken,” she said.
Acting principal, Juanita Louw, added that there is ample security at the school and that the incident was “unfortunate”.
She said the school had, however, communicated with parents and would hold a meeting in the evening to assure them of their children’s safety within the premises.
Louw said while some parents had immediately come to pick up their kids following the incident, the school continued without many disruptions.
“There [weren’t] that many parents that came to fetch their children [after the incident]. Most parents understood that, whilst the children were in the school premises, they are safe,” she said.
Louw said since the incident, the School Governing Body had assisted with ensuring that security is beefed up and were patrolling the area.
At least two armed response company vehicles were seen by News24 patrolling the area, as pupils were being escorted to an aftercare facility opposite the school.
Psycho-social unit sent to the school
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi in a statement released on Monday evening expressed his shock at the incident and said the department had sent its psycho-social unit to the school for the necessary support and counselling for all those affected the incident.
He said although some parents had come to the school to fetch their children, a parent meeting was scheduled for later in the day to allay fears.
“We call upon members of the public not to disrupt our schools and instill fear in children. Learners must feel safe in the school environment, which is conducive for effective learning and teaching,” said Lesufi.
He also urged members of the public to allow the police, who were working tirelessly on the case, to do their job.
Amy-Leigh found safe
According to a report in TimesLIVE, Amy-Leigh was dropped off by her kidnappers in an unnamed street at around 2AM on Tuesday morning. Residents nearby heard her crying and rushed her to the police station. She was immediately returned to her parents, and was also sent for a medical examination.
It is not known whether her parents paid the R2m ransom demanded by the kidnappers.