/ 18 March 2024

Fourth accused in Joshlin Smith disappearance has confessed, state says

Joshlin Smith
Joshlin Smith, of, Saldanha Bay, has been missing since 19 February. (Executive mayor Andrè Truter/Facebook)

The fourth accused in the disappearance of Joshlin Smith was part of the search operation for the six-year-old, said residents of Diazville in Saldanha Bay.

“She was helping us search for Joshlin when she just went missing, she was right under our nose this whole time,” Jessica Joubert told the Mail & Guardian.

Lourencia “Renz” Lombaard, 32, appeared briefly in the Vredenburg magistrate’s court on Monday on charges of kidnapping and human trafficking in connection with Joshlin’s disappearance. She is allegedly the last person to see the child before she disappeared  on 19 February. Family members said she had skipped school because she was unwell.

State prosecutor Jacques van Wyk said Lombaard had confessed, without saying what she had confessed to, and said he could give no further details.

Lombaard told the court she wanted to make use of Legal Aid to represent her in the case, which has been postponed to 25 March for a bail application.

On 5 March, police arrested Joshlin’s mother, Kelly Smith, her boyfriend Jacquen Appollis, Steveno van Rhyn and traditional healer Phumza Sigaqa on charges of human trafficking and kidnapping related to the girl’s disappearance.

The state later withdrew the charges against Sigaqa, citing a lack of evidence linking her to the crime. Smith, Appollis and Van Rhyn are expected back in the Vredenburg magistrate court on 13 May for further questioning.

Joshlin has still not been found despite an extensive search in the Middelpos area in Diazville where she was last seen.

“Our hearts go out to this little girl. We as the community have failed to protect her and now we can’t even find her,” a teary-eyed Diazvilleresident said.

Commenting on Lombaard’s arrest, spokesperson Malcolm Pojie said the police were still investigating and following up on possible leads.

“Be advised that it is normal practice that during such intricate investigations, people of interest will be taken in for questioning or will be interviewed with the aim of solving such a case,” Pojie added.