Boy found, mystery remains

2010-05-25 00:00

MYSTERY surrounds the reason why a Durban mother, whose son was found after being missing for almost a month, has been denied access to him.

Nine-year-old Michael Verster, who went missing on April 28 from outside his Pinetown school, was found wandering around a shopping centre in Vereeniging on Sunday.

A massive campaign was launched soon after his disappearance, with e-mails and flyers sent around the country. His family received hundreds of calls from concerned people, and private investigators offered their servi­ces free of charge.

It is believed that a couple found Michael holding a torn piece of paper with a phone number on it. Police then placed the little boy in a place of safety.

His relieved mother, Monique Verster, told The Witness that while she is grateful that Michael is safe, she is still anxious over not being able to visit him or even speak to him on the phone.

She said police told her that she couldn’t have any contact with him during the investigation.

“I would give anything to hear his voice. I don’t understand why I can’t speak to him or bring him home,” she said.

Verster said she received a phone call from a volunteer at the place of safety on Sunday afternoon, who told her that Michael was safe.

“I couldn’t stop shaking. I held the phone and couldn’t believe that he had been found. So much time had passed that I was starting to lose hope. I thought I had lost my boy,” she said.

Verster said the volunteer told her that Michael had not been injured and that he had just been fed.

“I can’t even describe how I felt; my son was alive and safe. My prayers have been answered. I can’t wait for him to come home,” she said.

Michael’s granny, Joan Michels, described her grandson as the “light in my life”.

“I thank God that he was not harmed, I love him to bits like any granny would love her grandson. I just want him to come home,” she said.

Michels said they do not have any information about where Michael was staying in Vereeniging.

“All we know is that he is in protective custody and that he in okay. The police told us that we couldn’t visit or even speak to him,” she said.

Michels said she hopes police will arrest Michael’s abductor soon so that justice may prevail.

Michael’s father, who is separated from Verster, lives in Vereeniging, but she has denied any allegations that he may have been involved in the boy’s disappearance.

“There were suspicions. However, we do not have any proof so it would be unfair to accuse him. He is also relieved that Michael is safe,” she said.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that neither pa­rent will be allowed to see Michael as this could hamper the investigation.

He said the process was explained to the parents and that the child will be able to go home after the investigation is complete.

Zwane could not indicate when Michael will be able to return home.

“We are investigating that the suspect will be charged with abduction. We are working closely with police from Vereeniging. The matter has been handed over to the Children’s Court,” he said.

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