Amy’Leigh de Jager, who was kidnapped outside her school in Vanderbijlpark on Monday morning and found unharmed in the early hours of Tuesday morning, has described the men who held her after her abduction as “a white oom and a black oom with dreadlocks”.
The six-year-old told the two people who found her shivering and abandoned on a street that she was very thirsty.
Hendrik Brandt (25) and Savannah Kriel (22) were on their way home from a pub at about 2am when they spotted the frightened girl on Heroult Street.
Amy’Leigh initially ran away from them, but they caught up to her.
Brandt said: “She said [the abductors] had dropped her off in the street while driving a white car with black stripes, and that it was as big as her mommy’s car inside.
“She said the men [who dropped her off] told her to go to a blue car parked on the street. They said her mommy was there, but she didn’t see a blue car and then the men sped off.”
Brandt and Kriel on Friday told City Press’ sister publication Rapport that they had heard on the news that a child had been abducted outside Laerskool Kollegepark and, when they saw the distraught girl on the street so late at night, they immediately suspected it was Amy’Leigh.
“When I picked her up and she said she’d been stolen from her mom, I was paralysed with shock,” said Brandt.
Heroult Street is a notoriously dangerous part of town.
“The other day, a guy near there was hit with a panga 36 times. I believe God made our paths cross,” said Brandt.
He said Amy’Leigh later became more talkative and was especially worried because she had borrowed a bracelet from a friend, which she was meant to give back the morning she was abducted.
“I promised her that we would take her back to her mommy and that she would be able to return the bracelet.”
Brandt gave his jacket to the child and piggy-backed Amy’Leigh to the nearest police station about 4km away. There, Amy’Leigh’s parents, Angeline and Wynand de Jager, were waiting for any news about their missing child.
For Angeline, it was the end of the longest 18 hours of her life.
The next shock came on Thursday morning, when one of Angeline’s close friends and a teacher at the child’s school was arrested in connection with the abduction.
In a WhatsApp message to a friend, which was shown to Rapport, Angeline wrote: “Can you believe she would do something like this to my child?”
Two men have also been taken into custody in connection with the abduction.
The teacher’s attorney, Jaco van Heerden, told Rapport his client has been provisionally charged with abduction, but that the charge sheet had not yet been finalised.
Wynand de Jager and his father, Christo, yesterday said the family did not want to speak to the media.
It is understood the kidnappers initially demanded a ransom of R2 million from Wynand de Jager.
According to a family friend, Shawn Delport, Amy’Leigh’s parents are incredibly grateful to the pair of Good Samaritans who took her to the police station.
Brandt and Kriel were homeless for a long time and refer to themselves as “street people”, but now live in somebody’s back yard.
Brandt said he was at a church gathering for homeless people on Wednesday night. When he was outside, he saw a shooting star.
“Savannah told me I should make a wish. She wanted to know what I had wished for, but I kept quiet, otherwise it won’t come true. When I heard that three people had been caught on Thursday for kidnapping Amy’Leigh, I told her that I had wished on the shooting star that the kidnappers would be arrested.”
All three accused will appear in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.