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WATCH: Stranger snatches toddler in 10 seconds

20 June, 04:02 PM

Sharlene Rood, News24

A Johannesburg mother has urged parents to be vigilant after her young son was snatched at a family restaurant.

A video of the incident which took place in a Johannesburg Spur on November 1, 2016 is going viral on social media.

Although the mother did not post the footage online herself, she says she is glad it is doing the rounds.

“The more people made aware, the better," she told News24, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Boy snatched from play area

In the video, a small boy is seen walking to the play area of the restaurant. A man walks toward him, picks him up and walks in the opposite direction — with the boy in his arms.

The man appears to be hiding the child, shielding him from view of his parents who are sitting just a few meters away.

The woman told News24 she suspects there were three men and a woman involved in the incident.

"I think they wanted to pass my son to the woman and have her leave the restaurant with him as it would look less suspicious.”

The mother, who was pregnant at the time and gave birth two weeks later, said her husband noticed the man walking away with their 22-month-old child.

“If, for some reason, my husband looked down to have a bite of food or just looked in a different direction for a split second, the situation could have had an entirely different ending,” she said.

"You always think it will happen to someone else"

When her husband confronted the man who picked up their son, the man said he was "only playing".

Security eventually escorted the alleged perpetrators from the premises.  

The family opened a case of attempted kidnapping at the local police station.

The mother says police closed the case after two days. News24 has contacted police for comment.

“You always think it will happen to somebody else, until it happens to you. Then it becomes very real,” the mother told News24. 

“The moral of the story is how quick this can happen and how vigilant you have to be.”

UPDATE: Responding to questions from News24, the Spur in question confirmed the incident took place. 

"Management immediately intervened and although the man insisted it was a practical joke, mall security was called and the case was reported to the police, however upon investigation the police chose not to prosecute," the restaurant said in a statement.

"The family have been regular visitors to the Spur since the incident. The safety of children is a massive priority to Spur, we have recently increased our staff in all the Play Canyons countrywide."

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