by Sharmaine Reuter. 26 March 2010
A disturbing incident at Gateway Theatre of Shopping has highlighted the seriousness of human trafficking and child safety in the north.
An email from a mother tells of a man who tried to kidnap her child on Friday 5 March.
Northglen News met with the mother. “The whole situation has been surreal to me,” she said. “I still, right now, cannot believe this has happened to me and my family.”
The mother, who is not named to protect her child, was at Gateway on a Friday with her husband and two children, a son aged five and a daughter aged two.
"After shopping for some presents we decided to have dinner a restaurant in the Palm Court area of Gateway,” she said. “We asked the restaurant staff to arrange a table where we could see our children playing around the pond, along with about 20 to 30 other children.
“I was standing near the bottom of the escalator and my children ran towards the pond. I had a full view of them,” she said, “My son ran off and eyes were led away from my daughter who was still looking at the fish. When I saw my son running back to me, my eyes went back to my daughter and I saw a man holding his hand out for her take.
“I saw her take his hand and he and a woman companion led her away toward the road.”
The mother took off after them. “I grabbed my daughter and pulled her towards me and the man tugged her back towards him,” said the mother. “I shouted at him to let her go. He looked at me, and said something to the woman and let my daughter’s hand go.”
The mother returned to her husband, who had not seen what had happened.
“I did not report it to the guards on duty,” said the mother, “because I had not seen any. I thought maybe I was being silly and did not want to make a scene.”
Once the family was home, the couple agreed to report the incident to Gateway the next day, which they did. “But I never heard from Gateway.” When her daughter’s god-father contacted Gateway to ask about the report, Gateway staff told him there was no record of the incident,” she said.
After a week of back and forth communication between Gateway and the mother, it was agreed that they meet to view the video footage.
“It was discovered that the mother had in fact contacted centre security the day after the event and that this had been miscommunicated through various channels,” said Adrian Raw, Gateway Centre manager.
“The centre acknowledged the errors made on its part, and invited the parent to view CCTV footage as nothing matching the time and descriptions provided could be found on CCTV records for the day she referred to. It was in this meeting that we realised that the information supplied to us had been incorrect. The appropriate apologies were made by the centre for its oversight and delays,” he said.
The incident occurred at 6.04pm on Friday 5 March, according to the CCTV footage, and the mother had reported it to have happened a half hour earlier.
“Gateway’s security team has assisted the mother to open a case at the Durban North police station into the attempted abduction of her daughter in the Palm Court area. The incident reported by the mother has been identified on CCTV footage,” said Raw.
She said “Gateway has been very helpful and I am thankful for their support.”
article reprinted with permission
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