South Africa

Teacher convicted of kidnapping 6-year-old outside Vanderbijlpark school

Teacher convicted of kidnapping 6-year-old outside Vanderbijlpark school

Schoolteacher Tharina Human, the woman suspected to be the mastermind behind the kidnapping of a six-year-old pupil a year ago, and her co-accused have been convicted after they all pleaded guilty on Thursday.

The 27-year-old grade RR teacher, as well as Laetitia Nel, 40, Bafokeng Molemohi, 24, and Pieter van Zyl, 50, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and extortion charges in the Gauteng High Court, sitting in Palm Ridge.

Human, whose hair is now dyed dark red, and her co-accused entered into a plea and sentencing agreement with the state.

The state told the court that the child’s parents had signed and accepted the contents of the plea bargain.

The court heard that the accused unlawfully and intentionally deprived the child of her freedom.

In her plea agreement, Human admitted to kidnapping the pupil from her mother outside the gates of Laerskool Kollegepark in Vanderbijlpark on September 2. She was bundled into a white Toyota Fortuner and it sped off.

After a vast search was launched, she was dropped off in Vanderbijlpark in the early hours of September 3, and found by a couple heading home from a neighbourhood pub. They escorted her to a nearby police station, where her parents were waiting, ending the kidnap drama.

Human said, through her lawyer David Mey, that she and her co-accused had demanded a R2m ransom from the child's father.

Mey told the court that Human said she kidnapped the child to “ease her financial” situation that she found herself in.

During sentencing proceedings, the six-year-old’s parents sat apart from each other in different rows.

Before court got under way, Nel sobbed uncontrollably in the dock. Sentencing proceedings were expected to begin shortly.

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