The young daughter of a South African boat racing star has been found safe after she was violently snatched from her mother’s arms during a school drop-off in Johannesburg.
Amy-Leigh de Jager, 6, was reportedly the target of a gang who hoped to secure a ransom in exchange for her return.
Wynand de Jager, the girl’s father, is a well-known powerboat racer.
Earlier this week, Amy-Leigh was torn from her mother’s grasp when four men ambushed the family at the gates of a primary school. Her 5-year-old brother reportedly witnessed the terrifying scene, and her mother sustained a shoulder injury in the attack.
“You can clearly see that this was a well-planned abduction because they snatched the child from the mother,” a school official said.
The gang reportedly called Wynand de Jager later, demanding a ransom of 2 million rand (approx. $132,000) in cash.
Incredibly, after the case received widespread attention and a massive manhunt was launched, the young girl was discovered unharmed after her abductors released her some 19 hours later, despite not having received any ransom payment.
“Local resident Shawn Delport, who has been helping the family and police with the search-and-rescue operation of the six-year-old since Monday, said she was dropped off at 2am on a street close to The Shakespeare Inn hotel in Vanderbijlpark,” TimesLIVE reports. “He said two people who were walking home from a pub close by saw her screaming and came to her rescue.”
“Delport said the two, who did not own a car, walked about 4km with Amy-Leigh to the local police station, where her family was waiting.”
A police source told the Daily Mail they believe the kidnappers realized the case was receiving too much publicity and gave up.
“Her photo was all over the internet and the news and we think they thought they were better off cutting their losses and ditching Amy-Leigh,” the source said.
After a medical inspection it has been determined that Amy-Leigh was not likely harmed by her captors.
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