Helen Zille blasts Gayton McKenzie’s 'interference' in Joshlin Smith case

PA leader says he searched for the missing girl every day until midnight

PA leader Gayton Mckenzie's role in the Joshlin Smith case is in the spotlight.
PA leader Gayton Mckenzie's role in the Joshlin Smith case is in the spotlight.
Image: Werner Hills

DA federal chair Helen Zille believes Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie’s involvement in the case of missing six-year-old Joshlin Smith from Saldanha Bay could have compromised the case.

Joshlin went missing on February 19 and her mother, Racquel Chantal Smith, initially told police she had left the child with her boyfriend, Jacques Rowhan Appolis, in their home in Middlebos informal settlement in Saldanha Bay because she was not feeling well. The disappearance of the child sparked a frantic search by community members and police. It has been three months and she still has not been found.

Her mother, who is expecting her fourth child, was charged with kidnapping and human trafficking along with Appollis, Steveno van Rhyn and Lourentia Lombard.

Speaking at a party election campaign event in Athlone, Cape Town, McKenzie said if he had not got involved in Joshlin's case, it would not have become prominent. 

“When Joshlin went missing I went there to look for her. There were no TV cameras. I went every day to look for her, I walked in the veld and looked for her with people from Middlebos until midnight. There was no DA, no ANC, there was nobody. We were there alone.

“Today they say we used Joshlin’s disappearance for politics. I am asking myself, 'where were you when we were looking for Joshlin?' We left our children to go look for Joshlin and you were sitting with your children eating warm food,” he said.

McKenzie's remarks sparked debate.

Zille accused McKenzie of compromising the case. 

I hope there is enough evidence left after Gayton and his mates invaded the crime scene, inevitably disturbing vital clues,” she said.

Joshlin Smith from Saldanha Bay has been missing since February 19.
Joshlin Smith from Saldanha Bay has been missing since February 19.
Image: Mayor Andrè Truter/Facebook

She made the comment after Ian Cameron, DA member and anti-crime activist, blamed political influence for having a negative impact on the case.

It is time for the SAPS cold case unit to take over the investigation. In my opinion they are our only hope if Joshlin is still alive. The political fumbles and interference has caused significant damage. It is sickening to see the political campaigns being run to gain political advantage from the life of a child. Something is off with this case,” he said. 

Police investigations were disrupted by “opportunist politicians” and “false information”, Cameron said. 

“Information received led to the arrest of four people. A wrongful arrest was also made due to false information. Some of the false information also led to people having to permanently leave the area due to being targeted and threatened, as reckless statements created suspicions about innocent members of the community.”

In March the NPA dropped kidnapping and human trafficking charges against Phumza Sigaqa, citing insufficient evidence. Sigaqa was initially arrested after one of the other accused alleged she had “bought” Joshlin for R20,000, an accusation she denied.

Last week, McKenzie said police raided a house of a traditional healer and were looking for additional suspects. He said there were “unconfirmed reports” that a woman was arrested after the raid. Police, however, have not made additional arrests. 

Responding to the criticism, McKenzie said: “We handed every suspect sitting in court today to the police. You [DA] have bigger things to worry about in George.” 

Here are some reactions from social media: 



Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.