Cape Town – While Town Two, Khayelitsha, residents have insisted they had no idea about the activities in the shack where Abirah Dehktar was kept or who lived there, it was heard at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday that some of the accused stood guard outside the structure.
Seven men made their first appearance on Thursday facing charges of kidnapping and extortion.
One revealed he was 47 years old after magistrate Goolam Bawa questioned him.
Bawa gave an order that the accused cannot be photographed or named yet as their legal representatives were not in court by the time the matter started.
Five of the seven said they had a private attorney who may have been at the Athlone Magistrate’s Court where he thought they would appear.
A few minutes later the attorney arrived and confirmed their statement.
The remaining two said they would take legal aid. According to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila, most of the accused were locals from around Khayelitsha and Strand.
“Initially, nine accused were arrested but two were not brought to court because at this stage there is nothing linking them to the case. I can confirm the other two were women,” he said.
One of the accused appeared nervous and was shivering while the others smiled, with one man winking at his loved ones as they left the dock. The matter was postponed to December 7 for a formal bail application.
At about 7.20am on November 4, the 8-year-old Rylands Primary School pupil was in her lift club vehicle waiting for another pupil when two vehicles pulled up behind the car.
According to prosecutor Darren Rudolph, five men jumped out of the vehicles and snatched Abirah, putting her in a Nissan double-cab bakkie.
Rudolph said on November 14 police received a tip-off at about 5pm that she was being held hostage in a shack in Town Two.
He said the tip-off led police to Joe Nzinga Gqabi Street where they found accused 1 to 4 inside the shack and accused 5, 6 and 7 “guarding the premises outside”, though they were ”frequently in and out“.
The court heard the accused attempted to run but were apprehended and Abirah was rescued.
The shack is situated near a spaza shop and a busy road.
According to a resident who asked not to be named, they had no idea who lived in the shack because they saw different people and at some stage it was vacant.
“We were aware there was a child kidnapped through the media but had no idea she was right under our nose.
As mothers and grandmothers we would not keep quiet if we noticed there was suspicious activity.
If we fear to report to police there are community structures we report to. Maybe the child was placed there at night.”
Dehktar family friend Imdaad Harris said two of the accused looked familiar.
“It’s like I’ve seen them before at the shopping market,” said Harris.
“There was just no remorse. The police need to catch the big fish, the accused’s bosses, and otherwise these types of incidents will continue. We will mobilise more people and they must not get bail.”