/ 13 May 2024

Accused in Joshlin Smith disappearance remanded in custody until investigations are complete

Joshlin Smith V2
The shack in Middelpos, Saldanha Bay, where Joshlin lived with her mother Kelly and her three-year-old sister. Photo: David Harrison

The case against the four suspects in the Joshlin Smith disappearance has been postponed to 15 July to allow the state to conclude its investigation. 

This is the first time the four accused – Joshlin’s mother, Kelly Smith, her boyfriend, Jacquen ‘Boeta’ Appolis, Stevano van Rhyn, and Lourentia Lombaard – made an appearance together in the Vredenburg magistrate’s court on Monday. 

They have been remanded in custody until their next appearance.  

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Lombaard, who was the last of the co-accused to be arrested in March, allegedly confessed to a crime relating to the disappearance of the six-year-old. 

However, the authorities have provided no further information on Lombaard’s confession, saying that those details will only be known when “one of them applies for bail”. 

“The earliest is if one of them applies for bail,” NPA spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila said. 

The four accused have been charged with trafficking for the purpose of exploitation and kidnapping. In previous court appearances, the accused abandoned their bail applications. 

Joshlin vanished on 19 February from her home in the Diazville’s Middelpos informal settlement.

At the time of Joshlin’s disappearance, her mother Kelly told police that when she had returned home after being out for the day, she could not find Joshlin. 

She called her boyfriend, Appolis, whom she had left Joshlin in the care of, but he could not account for her whereabouts.

In April, the international crime organisation Interpol said it received a tip-off that Joshlin was spotted on the Panamanian ship, Frontier Asuka. A two-day search of the ship docked at Port Talbot in Wales yielded no sign of the child.

Since then, Police Minister Bheki Cele said police have contacted international crime organisations like Interpol to assist in the search for the child. 

While the community of Saldanha Bay was clinging to hope that blood-stained clothes found in the Middelpos informal settlement could be the key to finding her, police said forensic analysis came back negative. 

Last week, police refuted claims by Patriotic Alliance (PA) leader Gayton McKenzie that another person was arrested for Joshlin’s disappearance. 

McKenzie posted on his Facebook page that a “huge police raid” took place at the shack of a traditional healer in Middelpos on Wednesday.

But Southern Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Pojie said: “No new arrests have been made. The investigation is still ongoing and the possibility of other suspects being arrested as the investigation unfolds, cannot be ruled out. The search for Joshlin continues.” 

Meanwhile, the court heard on Monday that police are analysing witness statements and mobile downloads as part of the investigation into Joshlin’s disappearance. 

“Leads are still being followed up and we ultimately want no stone to be left unturned because our main aim is still to make sure that Joshlin is returned unharmed,” MEC for Police Oversight and Community Safety in the Western Cape, Reagen Allen, told a media briefing outside the Vredenburg magistrate’s court following the appearance of the accused.