Johannesburg – A young woman is missing after she and an older woman with a toddler were kidnapped and robbed in Roodepoort on Wednesday.
Lindiwe Cindi, 56, told News24 the experience left her so traumatised that she had been unable to eat or sleep.
Three men claiming to be police officers approached Cindi and the young woman, whose identity was unknown, just after she had gone to a bank to withdraw money on Wednesday morning.
Cindi has been looking after five foster children at her home in the Snake Park informal settlement, in Soweto, since 2014.
Earlier in the day, Cindi and her two-year-old had been to see social workers in Kagiso about the birth certificate for one of her children. While she was there, a social worker told her the children’s social grant money had been sent to her account.
She asked one of the social workers, who was on her way to Roodepoort, to drop her off at a local bank, as it was closer than Jabulani Mall in Soweto, where she usually withdrew her money.
Accused of robbing bank
She withdrew R5 300 and placed all but R300 of it in her bra and went with her toddler to buy nappies. On her way to catch a taxi, a young woman approached her and asked her to help her find a taxi to Dobsonville.
While Cindi was helping her, three men pulled up in a car. They claimed to be police officers and accused the women of having robbed a bank. One of the men wore what looked like an SA Police Service uniform – a blue shirt and blue jersey with the police's yellow star.
"The 'cops' then told her to get into the car so they could take them to a police station to fill out a statement," Cindi’s son Musa Mchunu told News24.
"She is an older person who respects the law, so she got in. They also asked the young girl to get into the car."
They drove them to a deserted area in Mathole, an informal settlement near the Durban Deep mine in Roodepoort. They pointed a gun at the women and demanded money.
"They said 'He mama sise msebenzini, sicele leya R5 300 ewuyikhipe lapha eNedbank' (Hey mama, we are at work here. Please give us that R5 300 that you withdrew at the Nedbank)," Cindi said. They took her phone and bank cards and demanded her PIN numbers.
They took R700 from the young woman, before kicking Cindi and her toddler out of the car. They drove off with the young woman still in the car.
"They just left us in an open field and luckily some people who were passing by helped us. There was a lady who helped us. She took us from there to the police station and then to the bank so that I could close my account," she said.
She did not know how she would take care of her children, aged 11, 6, 4, 3 and 2, for the rest of the month.
"Now the children are looking at me and I don’t have a cent. I was going to use that money to buy a bed for the room and some clothes. They are currently sleeping on a sponge mattress and the two-year-old sleeps with me," she said.
All the toddler was talking about was the robbery.
"The little one has been telling everyone who walks through that door about a gun and the people who stole Gogo’s money. Everyone. I don’t know how things will go tonight. I don’t think he will go to sleep."
Her other children were at school and nursery school at the time of the robbery.
Cindi had opened an armed robbery and attempted murder case at the Roodepoort police station. Roodepoort police could not be immediately reached for comment, despite several attempts to contact them.