New lead in Joshlin Smith case proves futile: Two frantic searches yield no results

The seaside town of Saldanha Bay has recently garnered attention for all the wrong reasons following the disappearance of Joshlin Smith. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

The seaside town of Saldanha Bay has recently garnered attention for all the wrong reasons following the disappearance of Joshlin Smith. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Published Apr 19, 2024


Cape Town - Saldanha Bay residents, desperate to find missing Joshlin Smith, embarked on two frantic searches for the six-year-old girl this week but an excavation at a local field yielded no results.

Today marks two months since the 6-year-old was reported missing by her mother, Racquel “Kelly” Smith, who has since been arrested and charged along with three others for human trafficking and kidnapping

In the first case lead on Monday, a woman who claimed to have been in jail with Smith in Pollsmoor prison said she was informed about where the child was.

According to Saldanha Bay ward councillor Vernon Vraagom, a voice note concerning the woman’s allegations was circulated.

Councillor Vernon Vraagom at the site where residents dug looking for the six-year-old. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

“I then received a call from Shakes, a TikToker, who said she was on her way to Saldanha Bay so the lead would be followed.

“We gathered people around and told them that the woman was a witness to a crime but missed a court date and was arrested thereafter.

“She said that she was told by Kelly that the child was at the shack where a sangoma lives in Middelpos.

“She described the shack and said there is a combi that parks there, we should check under it, there’s a drain and that Joshlin wasn’t the only child who was there.”

He said the woman was not told what kind of condition Joshlin was in.

“We had to follow that lead because we were desperate to find the girl.

“We just want closure, it has been two months and no positive lead.

“We may say we don’t trust Kelly, but we have to listen and search.”

When Diazville residents went to the sangoma’s residence, they were reportedly met with hostility.

“It became a racial thing, about 200 black people barred us from going into the area. We returned on Tuesday with the police, they searched and they didn’t find anything.”

Vraagom said that on Wednesday they received another lead.

“A person came forward and said they saw Jacquin (Boeta) and his friend Steveno put a bag in a drain near Diazville High School the night Joshlin disappeared. Shortly after that, the drain overflowed and that is where bloody clothes were found the second time.

“We have not yet determined whether the clothes belong to any of the accused or Joshlin.

“On Wednesday, we asked the police and the municipality to help with the machines to dig. Nothing positive came out of that.

“We are waiting for the blueprints of the area so they can take a look inside the stormwater pipes.”

Smith, along with her boyfriend Jacquin Appollis and friends Steveno van Rhyn and Lourentia Lombaard, is expected back in the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on May 13.

Police spokesperson Malcolm Pojie said the investigating team were still pursuing all leads to trace Joshlin.

“The actions taken in Saldanha on Wednesday were based on information received from a member of the public. Unfortunately, no positive result was achieved. The investigation continues.”

Saldanha Bay municipal manager Heinrich Mettler said the municipality only provided assistance with their equipment.

Joshlin’s paternal grandmother, Lauretta Yon, said on Thursday that even though they were not doing well, they remained hopeful that Joshlin would be found.

Grandmother Lauretta Yon speaking about her grandchild.Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

“We heard that there was some digging but no one came to us and told us.

“We have hope that Joshlin will be found. I believe she is still alive, especially because a body has not been found. I would have been happy even if we found her body, for closure.

“We want Kelly and others to tell the truth and tell us where the child is.

“My son (Joshlin’s father) said his epilepsy has worsened.

“I am trying to be strong,” the emotional grandmother said.

“We keep being told about leads and nothing ever comes up. We are not going to give up, we will continue to search for her. We are hoping that at the next court date, Kelly will tell us what exactly happened to Joshlin.

“The police arrested them and we still have not found her, they need to tell the truth and put everyone at ease.”

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