Emotions ran high last night when about 500 angry residents from Kwazakhele and New Brighton went on the hunt for a man they suspected of having links to the murder of little Sonia Payi, 7, whose body was found in the bushes on Monday.
Drama unfolded as hundreds of residents shouted in the dark, seeking out the man, who they believed had been tipped off by a friend about a pending attack on his life.
Some of the people, mostly women, walked from Kwazakhele and along the way were joined by New Brighton residents as they proceeded to the man’s house in Red Location.
Despite the possibility of a volatile situation, the police were nowhere to be seen.
Some members of the group were carrying sticks and demanding that the man must come and explain to them what had happened.
“Why were you playing with our children?” some demanded.
According to irate community members, the man, who pretended to be deaf, was spotted playing with young children near Mbilini Street where Sonia was kidnapped.
A woman, who identified herself only as Zonke, said earlier in the day that some people had been surprised to see the man playing with little children even though he did not live in Mbilini Street.
“When he was questioned about his motive, he pretended to be deaf. “When he was pushed further, he simply ran away, leaving behind his false teeth,” Zonke said.
The teeth were put in a plastic bag and the group carried it with them as evidence to justify their action. Information gleaned by the group pointed them to the vicinity of Red Location.
They then quickly mobilised, saying they wanted to question him about why he had gone to Mbilini Street.
“We are bereaved,” one woman said.
“We are sick and tired of crime in this area. “This man must account. You cannot come here and play with children while we do not even know you in this area.”
They eventually dispersed after failing to find the man.
Sonia, who was abducted while on her way to a shop on Saturday night, was found in a field in Struanway in New Brighton – about 4km from where she had last been seen – shortly after midday on Monday.
The little girl, a Grade 2 pupil at Bhongweni Primary School, was snatched by a man after sneaking out of the house with a six-year-old friend to buy chips from the nearby shop.
The alarm was raised after the younger child returned home and told Sonia’s grandmother that she had been taken away by a man.
The kidnapper allegedly gave the six-year-old 50 cents, telling her to buy sweets.
Police spokesman Andre Beegte said no one had been arrested, but they were following strong leads.
In an unrelated matter, news of another missing girl in the area was rife on social media.
However, this could not be verified last night.