South African toddler missing for almost a month found under unusual circumstances

I hadn’t heard about this case before today, but a three-year-old girl named Chante Christoffels was abducted in Bellville, South Africa several weeks ago, on June 3. According to this account, a woman whom her parents knew by sight offered to buy her some yogurt, then walked off with her, and this was all captured on CCTV. There’s a picture of Chante here. Her parents are “car guards,” whatever that is, and apparently homeless.

The police found her over the weekend, playing alone not far from where she disappeared, wearing the same clothes she’d been wearing at the time of her abduction. They were clean. It looks like they’re still trying to figure out what happened. In the meantime, Chante is not being returned to her parents’ care, although they’re being allowed to see her. I don’t know if the police think they were involved in the abduction, or whether it’s just concern about their living situation, or what.

3 thoughts on “South African toddler missing for almost a month found under unusual circumstances

  1. Princess Shantae June 27, 2011 / 10:01 am

    Do you suppose this lady needed a child in order to apply for some kind of financial help or something? It would explain why she didn’t keep Chante.
    They’re probably concerned for Chante’s living situation, plus the fact her parents let her go off with somebody they only knew by sight. Not very good judgment on their part.

    • Meaghan June 27, 2011 / 12:43 pm

      I don’t think they let her go. If I recall right from my reading, she offered to give the kid some yogurt, Mom said no, then she walked off with the kid when Mom’s back was turned.

  2. Jennifer June 28, 2011 / 2:35 am

    I’m American but lived for 2 years in South Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer. “Car guards” are people who sit in public parking lots and literally watch over the cars to prevent them from being stolen/vandalized/ broken into, etc. When you come back to your car you give them a small amount of money. The dual factors of South Africa’s high crime rate, and the need to find employment for millions who were undereducated under the old apartheid system pretty much keeps the car guard system a staple of South African life. As you can imagine most car guards are barely scraping by, and it seems that this family had the added challenge of trying to keep a toddler entertained in a parking lot all day. The little girl was probably bored and either wandered off or was lured away from her parents.

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