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Sordid Tale Unfolds in Saldanha as Alleged Sangoma's Innocence Questioned in Child Disappearance Case

Published March 12, 2024
2 months ago

South Africa remains gripped by the enigmatic case of 6-year-old Joslin Smith's disappearance from the Middelpos informal settlement in Saldanha. Thrown into turmoil three weeks ago, the case presents a profoundly unsettling narrative involving alleged sangomas, human trafficking, and the use of muti - traditional medicine that sometimes imbricates sinister practices.

The investigation took a dramatic turn with the arrest of four individuals: Phumza Sigaqa, whom some allege is a sangoma, Joslin's mother Racquel Smith, her boyfriend Jacquin Appollis, and an associate, Steveno van Rhyn. They appeared before the Vredenburg Magistrate's Court amidst charges of kidnapping and a horrifying instance of human trafficking. Van Rhyn, after a grueling interrogation, purported that Joslin was sold for R20,000, an act that the state believes was orchestrated by her mother, Racquel.

This news has thrown both the family of Sigaqa and the broader community of the West Coast into disarray. Silindokuhle Bekameva, Sigaqa's husband, stands firm in her defense, categorically denying her association with any form of witchcraft or previous arrests. His statement to IOL depicts a chilling scene where police allegedly resorted to torture during Sigaqa's arrest - an accusation poised to rattle public trust in law enforcement.

The community's sentiment towards Sigaqa is mixed. Some neighbors in Middelpos hesitate to cast quick judgment, while others express certainty in her innocence. This divergence in belief underscores the intricacies involved in her association with the case.

Vernon Vraagom, a PA councillor, recounted a peculiar interaction with Van Rhyn, where he claimed knowledge of the alleged sale of the child for muti. This encounter undoubtedly catalyzed Van Rhyn's surrender to authorities and his polygraph test - a test that precedes a cascade of events leading to his apprehension and the arrest of three other individuals.

An equally important narrative is the experience of Joslin's neighbor, the only known sangoma in the area, Alungile Ngqomorha. A twelve-year veteran in practicing traditional medicine, Ngqomorha firmly denies the heinous implication of utilizing human parts in his work. Despite the scrutiny by law enforcement, his stance remains unyielding, echoing a sentiment of frustration towards the tarnished image of legitimate sangomas due to misperceptions and unfounded allegations.

The very fabric of Middelpos has been frayed by concern and dread over the missing child, compelling Reverend June Dolley-Major to join an extensive search operation. Her perspective suggests the possibility of a broader criminal element, perhaps involving illegal smuggling due to Saldanha Bay's access to maritime transit routes.

As the search for answers continues, Brigadier Novela Potelwa has hinted at the potential for further arrests, a sentiment that underscores the fluidity and intensifying nature of the ongoing investigation. The community's quest for truth is shrouded in mystery, with various threads of this complex tapestry still awaiting revelation.

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