Five KZN boys lured to Cape Town in soccer academy scam

2016-01-13 18:23
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Durban – The Department of Social Development in the Western Cape has issued a stern warning to parents to be extra vigilant after five KwaZulu-Natal boys were lured to Cape Town under false pretences.

The boys had allegedly been sold a dream of landing a spot in a top soccer club’s academy in the Mother City.

Western Cape Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said social workers were called to the Parow police station on Monday and informed that the boys had been found.

"It was initially thought to be an abandonment case and it was later discovered that the boys had been lured to Cape Town under the impression that they had secured a spot at a top soccer training academy."

Although the investigation was at its early stages, Fritz said parents should be aware "of child traffickers using deceptive means to potentially abduct and traffick children".

The boys, four under the age of 18 and one 19 year old, were believed to have been recruited from KwaMashu.

"As per the Children’s Act of 2005, the department has placed the minors in a Child & Youth Care Centre (CYCC), and the 19-year-old is being assisted with shelter and care by the department’s human trafficking unit."

Fritz said the department’s priority was to get them back home safely.

"We are currently working on transporting the boys back home, in conjunction with the parents and our colleagues in KZN. This situation will thankfully have a positive outcome as the boys evaded being exploited by the scammers who lured them from their homes."

He said the latest United States Trafficking in Persons annual report cited that there were 41 cases in South Africa in 2015. He said the department was investigating the circumstances around the case.

"Ensuring the safety and care of children requires a whole-of-society approach. Residents can report any neglected, abandoned or missing children to the police or to the DSD Hotline on 0800 220 250," said Fritz.

KwaZulu-Natal's social development department spokesperson, Ncumisa Fandesi, said the matter was brought to the department earlier on Wednesday.

"We are in the early stages of gathering information of what really happened," she said.

She said the boys had not been reported missing because, based on the information at hand, the parents had consented to the trip.

"It is unfortunate that they were sold a dream and the dream turned into a nightmare."

Fandesi said the two departments were working together to get the boys home safely.

"When they arrive they will be assessed by professionals to check if any damage has been done emotionally."

Fandesi urged parents to always check the legitimacy of their child’s trips.

"In this case everything looked genuine, but parents should check and double check everything before giving consent," she said.

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