A nightmare relived

2018-07-12 06:00
Matheresa Mahlokozi examines Gcobani Mahlokozi after he went missing from Friday 6 July. He was safely returned by police on Tuesday.PHOTO: MZWANELE MKALIPI

Matheresa Mahlokozi examines Gcobani Mahlokozi after he went missing from Friday 6 July. He was safely returned by police on Tuesday.PHOTO: MZWANELE MKALIPI

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The parents of a mentally disabled boy are relieved he has returned home, after going missing for a few days.

Now they have reason to celebrate his ninth birthday on Saturday (14 July).

Gcobani Mahlokozi went missing on Friday 6 July. It was the second time the young boy went missing.

The first incident dates back to November 2017. City Vision reported on the incident (“Reunited with family”, 23 November 2017).

During a visit to the family home in Pholile informal settlement on Tuesday (10 July), Lwandle police informed the family that they had found Gcobani in Malmesbury.

His visibly shaken mother Matheresa Mahlokozi expressed how his disappearance affected her.

“I was really stressed,” she said, as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I felt defeated and I struggled to sleep not knowing where my child is.”

The unemployed mother said Gcobani disappeared while playing at a play park near a shopping centre in Broadway, where she sells clothing for a living.

When she asked his older sister to call him, Gcobani was nowhere to be found. Other children playing in the park said they has tried to chase after him, as he ran towards Gordon’s Bay.

But they could not catch up with him.

“When his 12-year-old sister told me he had ran away, I immediately packed up my goods and went in search of him,” she recounted.

“I asked some boys to run after him, but they returned saying he was too fast for them. We went back to search until late on Friday.”

Mahlokozi reported her son as missing at Lwandle Police Station and continued her search at local safe houses, where missing children are sometimes sent.

“I always have to keep a watchful eye on Gcobani,” she said.

“It is better when he is at school because I know he is safe there. He attends Nceduluntu in Nomzamo at R300 a month, a fee which we are battling to cover as a family. It is tough.”

Before hearing that her son had been located, Mahlokozi hoped and prayed that he was safe and would return unscathed.

Her husband, Boyisile, who also depends on piecemeal jobs, spoke of how the disappearance of his child affected him.

“This is terrible,” he said. “I thought that after the first incident, he had forgotten about disappearing like this. It is five days now without seeing him.

“It hurts a lot, but there’s nothing we can do. If I had enough money I would take him back home to Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.

“Maybe there would be an improvement after he visits the ancestral land.”

After hearing that her son would return safely, a visibly relieved Mahlokozi said she would take him to the clinic for a checkup the following day.

A Lwandle police spokesperson confirmed the boy was found unharmed.

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