Amy'Leigh's mom weeps as alleged kidnappers, including teacher, appear in court

Tharina Human (right) with Amy'Leigh de Jager's mother, Angeline.
Tharina Human (right) with Amy'Leigh de Jager's mother, Angeline.
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Three people, including suspended Laerskool Kollegepark Grade RR teacher Tharina Human, a close friend of the De Jager family, appeared in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court on Monday for the kidnapping of 6-year-old Amy'Leigh de Jager.

Her co-accused are Pieter Jacobus van Zyl, 50, and Laetitia Nel, 40. 

The three appeared before Magistrate Hussain Kotha in the crowded Court B, where family members and friends had gathered since before 09:00. 

READ | Amy'Leigh: 'Kidnapper teacher' allegedly owed money to drug lords

The three accused's appearance was delayed by several hours as Kotha contemplated whether the media should be allowed to attend and photograph the proceedings. Willem de Klerk, appearing for Netwerk24, argued on behalf of the media.

Kotha ruled that the media could attend the proceedings and take photographs and video footage while court was not in session. 

Amy'Leigh's parents, Wynand and Angeline de Jager, sat close to each other as the accused were then brought into court. Angeline wept with her head against her husband's shoulder as her friend and son's teacher stepped into the dock, right in front of where the couple was sitting. 

Human's father, Riaan Botha, gave her a quick kiss as she walked past. 

The three are charged with kidnapping. Human stood emotionless throughout the proceedings, which lasted only a few minutes. 

Wynand de Jager comforted his wife as the accused confirmed the names of their legal representatives. 

A formal bail application will be brought by the three accused on September 19 in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court. They will remain in custody until then. 

READ | Amy'Leigh, 6, after kidnap ordeal: 'I want a burger and my brother'

The kidnapping

On September 2, four men snatched Amy'Leigh from her mother's car at the Laerskool Kollegepark in Vanderbijlpark at around 07:40 and drove off in a white Toyota Fortuner, News24 previously reported.

After initially demanding R2m in ransom, her kidnappers abandoned their plan and dropped Amy'Leigh off between 02:00 and 02:30 on Tuesday in a street close to The Shakespeare Inn in Vanderbijlpark.

On Thursday, police confirmed three arrests, among them Human. 

The room where Amy'Leigh was held before being released was dirty, dark and "almost like a dungeon" News24 reported earlier.

A security source close to the investigation into her kidnapping said she had been kept in "appalling conditions".

"It was no place for a child; hell, it was not fit for any human."

Close family friend

A man and a woman - identified by Rapport as Hendrik Brandt, 25, and Savannah Kriel, 22 - were on their way home from a bar when they came across the girl and took her to the Vanderbijlpark police station, where she was reunited with her parents.

The 27-year-old Human is a close friend of Angeline de Jager, News24 reported earlier. 

On Human's Facebook page, the two women can be seen together in several pictures, and compliment each other using the nickname "heksie" (little witch). 

READ | 'There are sickos out there' - arrested teacher to parents just after Amy'Leigh was kidnapped

Shortly after the kidnapping on Monday, Human sent a series of WhatsApp voice notes to parents, saying that there are "sickos out there" and asking for money for "flowers and a hamper" for Amy'Leigh's parents.

According to a WhatsApp voice note by Botha, she allegedly used "narcotics" and owed money to drug lords, News24 reported. 

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