The disappearance of 3-year-old Anothando Mhlobo set off one of the biggest search operations Hout Bay has ever seen, but after more than a week he has still not been found.
Residents, police officers, community police forums, drones, tracker dogs and helicopters have all joined the increasingly desperate search for the child.
Anothando was last seen on Monday August 10 outside his Mandela Park home.
He was wearing a navy blue and white top, red-and-white track pants with red boots.
Rumours have circulated that Anothando was kidnapped, but Hout Bay Community Police Forum chairman Anthony Chemaly said there was no evidence to support that claim.
“I think it’s wonderful the way people came out to support and assist,” he said.
“We had hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, but the downside really was that the search was running on a lot of rumours, and it wasn’t very organised.”
Bronwyn Moore, founder and director of Community Cohesion, called on the public to stop spreading false information.
“We are also fielding many calls from our colleagues from outside Hout Bay who are reading on their community groups that the boy has been found, deceased and perps have been arrested. This is not true. These stories come from somewhere in Hout Bay,” she said in a social-media post.
“Please, if you do not know for a fact what you are sharing is true, don’t share it.”
A vehicle with a loud speaker mounted to it drove around Imizamo Yethu, calling people out of their homes and urging them to join the search.
As the days go by with still no sign of the child, the situation has become increasingly tense, and there are reports of some searchers threatening people.
Laurence Mthengwana, of Imizamo Yethu, has been searching for Anothando since Monday.
“People are angry in the community, and I think people just had enough now,” he said. “Maybe I do not agree with everything that is going on, but I understand there are emotions involved, and they want to find him.”In some cases, maybe the guys are being too aggressive and hostile and it’s making people scared, but if they are scared, how must Anothando be feeling?”
In response to a Facebook appeal last week, money was raised to get a helicopter into the sky.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas praised the community’s efforts to find Anothando.
“The Hout Bay community continues to inspire, as people from all over the ward came out in full force and in a collective effort for days in order to try and find the missing boy,” he said.
“We are all deeply moved by the disappearance of little Anothando and grateful for the co-operation between the communities of Hout Bay, volunteer corps and the many services who have been united in trying to locate him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and we pray for a swift end to their search. The pain of not knowing where he is can only be almost too much to bear.”
Meanwhile, provincial police spokesman Colonel André Traut could only confirm that little Anothando was still missing and police continued to investigate his disappearance.
Anybody with information on his whereabouts can contact Sergeant Smith at 082 522 1075 or 021 784 2736 or Hout Bay police station at 021 791 8660 or Sergeant Njara at 082 302 8370.