‘Witness’ readers’ tips help police find

2009-10-28 00:00

HAPPY tears, hugs and big smiles — that was the scene at the Townhill police station where the Masuku family were reunited with their 15-year-old son, Siyabonga, who has been missing since last Wednesday.

The investigating officers say the reunion would not have been possible without the help of those who responded to The Witness article published yesterday appealing for information regarding Siyabonga’s disappearance.

A very tired Inspector Gideon Bouwer and his branch manager, Inspector Bhekani Vilakazi, who have not had decent sleep since the matter was reported on Wednesday, said floods of calls were received from people in the Scottsville area who spotted Siyabonga, after having read the article.

“That is what policing is all about. We totally depend on the community, they are our most powerful tool,” said Bouwer.

Contrary to yesterday’s report, Bouwer said, a missing person case was opened last Wednesday.

The search started on Wednesday in the bushes around English Road in Chase Valley, where the Masuku home is. According to the men, this happened from 9 pm until very late.

On Thursday, Bouwer called on the crime prevention unit to conduct more searches.

“We had done interviews with all his classmates at Carter High and got lots of leads. We were basically working 24 hours. But it was like we were an hour behind him,” added Bouwer.

Bouwer, who was supposed to go off standby duty on Thursday, carried on working to find Siyabonga.

He was later joined by Vilakazi, who had been away, though Bouwer often called him for advice.

The men have worked together for about 14 years and admitted that they are not there just to tick off the register. They also work with their hearts.

Vilakazi even unashamedly confessed that he also shed a few tears when Siyabonga was brought in.

“The principal at Carter is a hero in his own right. We were very impressed with the man’s passion, commitment and perseverance.

“If we needed information, he would stop everything and called whoever might assist in finding Siyabonga. He made his students and teachers available. He and his staff were on standby as well,” said Vilakazi.

Foremost in the Masuku’s agenda is protecting their son’s dignity and to get him a counsellor.

His father, Patrick, said he is happy and relieved that his son is back home.

“Right now I think it is important that he rests and relaxes. I will spend time with him and not let him out of my sight,” said Masuku, who had to abandon a big civil engineering project in Johannesburg to be with his family.

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