Police have called for calm, claiming several messages on social media about suspicious people lurking around a Port Elizabeth school, had been exaggerated. They have, however, urged schools to be on the lookout for any suspicious individuals on their premises.
This came to light this morning when a Newton Park school reported a silver VW Polo parked outside the premises at about 7:30am with its driver sitting in the car. By this afternoon, social media and Whats App messenger groups went viral with messages asking parents and teachers to be extra vigilant.
By midday, several schools had sent out SMS alerts to parents informing them to be cautious.
Police have called for calm stating that several of these messages had been exaggerated.
In one message, a woman, claiming to be a parent, stated that children are being kidnapped for ransom while another message featured men talking to children outside the school.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the alert came after a parent spotted the Polo.
“After a while, the parent became suspicious and went up to the man inside the VW Polo. The individual claimed to be waiting for someone and provided a name. The parent informed the man that there was nobody by that name at the school,” she said. “The man then drove off and the parent followed him. The parent, however, lost sight of the vehicle and subsequently alerted the police.”
Naidu said that as a precaution, the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit informed the school’s principal.
“As part of the detective’s duties, she alerted a few principals in the Newton Park area. Somehow, this then went viral and the details of the story kept changing via social media sites,” she added.
Naidu said an inquiry was under investigation. “At this stage, we just want to talk to the driver of the car to ascertain why he was there.”
Detectives are currently tracing the identity of the driver of the car.