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Heartbreaking Kidnap of South Africa's 'Madeleine McCann' Sparks National Outcry

Kelly Smith, the mother of the missing Saldanha Bay girl, Joslin Smith, pictured left, has been charged with human trafficking and kidnapping.
Kelly Smith, the mother of the missing Saldanha Bay girl, Joslin Smith, pictured left, has been charged with human trafficking and kidnapping.

The harrowing tale of six-year-old Joshlin Smith, dubbed South Africa's Madeleine McCann, has gripped the nation as her mother faces charges of kidnapping and human trafficking. Kelly Smith, 33, has been accused of orchestrating a plot involving her daughter's disappearance, allegedly to settle a drug debt. Reports suggest that Smith's stepfather, Jacques Appollis, and a friend, Steveno van Rhynto, were involved in attempting to sell Joshlin for monetary gain. While the initial suspicion pointed towards the grisly practice of using body parts for black magic, authorities have since stated that the child was trafficked for exploitation purposes.

Joshlin went missing in Saldanha Bay, near Cape Town, while playing outside her home, sparking a massive search effort involving the community, law enforcement, and search and rescue teams. Despite the extensive search, there has been no sign of the little girl, leading authorities to privately acknowledge the grim possibility that they are searching for a body.


The case has shed light on the alarming rate of child disappearances in South Africa, with statistics showing that a child goes missing in the country every five hours. Bianca van Aswegen, a criminologist and National Coordinator for Missing Children South Africa, has been assisting the police in their search efforts. Van Aswegen emphasizes the importance of not letting children's cases fade into oblivion, highlighting the need for continued public awareness and proactive measures to protect vulnerable children.

Joshlin's disappearance has united the community in a shared effort to find her, with thousands joining the search across land and sea, including the involvement of the Royal Navy, K9 units, and various law enforcement agencies. Minister of Police, Behki Cele, has rallied searchers, while the family's admission of a drug habit has added complexity to the case. Despite denying that Joshlin was sold to settle debts, the family's struggles with addiction have come to light, underscoring the tragic circumstances that have enveloped the innocent child.

As the nation remains captivated by Joshlin's story, the community's united front in searching for her serves as a poignant reminder of the power of solidarity in the face of tragedy. Despite the somber circumstances surrounding her disappearance, the outpouring of support and determination to find her reflects a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness that has shrouded this heart-wrenching case.

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