Joshlin Smith update: ‘I was beaten under my feet, on my knees, poured with water and suffocated with plastic’

Joshlin Smith was last seen on Monday, February 19. Photo: SAPS

Joshlin Smith was last seen on Monday, February 19. Photo: SAPS

Published Mar 25, 2024


The woman who is alleged to have been the sangoma involved in the disappearance of Joshlin Smith has broken her silence since her release from custody.

Phumza Sigaqa, 32, was among those arrested alongside Joshlin’s mother, Kelly Smith, Jacquen ‘Boeta’ Appolis, and Stevano van Rhyn. They were charged in the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court with trafficking in persons for the purpose of exploitation and kidnapping.

It has been alleged Joshlin was sold for R20,000 to a sangoma.

However, on March 13, the State withdrew all charges against Sigaqa and she was released from custody. The trio were remanded in custody after abandoning their bid for bail.

Phumza Sigaqa had all charges against her withdrawn. Photo: Patrick Louw/Independent Newspapers

Sigaqa had a sit-down with Newzroom Afrika at the weekend and expressed how she was allegedly tortured by police after being implicated in the disappearance of Joshlin.

She also revealed that Smith admitted in the dock during their first court appearance that she was pregnant.

Sigaqa told the broadcaster she had a suspicion that Boeta knew more than what he led on.

“I say this because he didn’t know enthusiasm on the first day of searching for the child. Instead, he was tired. I found it strange for a parent not to be eager to join the search,” she said.

Jacquen Appolis, Stevano van Rhyn, Kelly Smith remain behind bars. Photo: Patrick Louw/Independent Newspapers

The mother of three, who resides in the Diazville area of Saldanha Bay, mentioned that on the day of Joshlin’s disappearance, she observed Smith and Joshlin around 4pm, carrying a gas cylinder towards a nearby area known as Marikana.

She never saw Joshlin again.

Sigaqa claimed she was coerced into confessing after hours of torture at the hands of police and that people close to her needed to speak up about where Joshlin is.

“I was called into a boardroom, asked where Joshlin was and if I knew Joshlin. I told them I knew her,” she said.

Sigaqa stated police told her she needed to be truthful as Boeta and van Rhyn had already claimed they left Joshlin by her at 1pm on the day of her disappearance.

“I was shocked at the revelation. I was again told to tell the truth. I was beaten under my feet, on my knees, poured with water and suffocated with a plastic. During this ordeal I was repeatedly asked to tell the truth. I asked: ‘which truth?’ I was forced to admit that Joshlin was indeed left in my care,” Sigaqa said.

She claimed she was willing to ‘die for her truth’.

She said a female police officer said she needed to be put in a machine, however, a male officer said they cannot as she ‘could die’.

It is not clear what machine she is referring to.

While she doesn't have much familiarity with the latest accused in the case, 31-year-old Lourentia Lombaard, she was aware that the woman had been with Joshlin’s mother, Kelly, and her boyfriend, Boeta.

Lombaard abandoned her bid for bail.

Sigaqa expressed that she had no fear of being implicated in this matter again, as she is confident - as is the community - that she is not capable of committing the alleged actions.

She said her life will never be the same again as she will always be known as the sangoma and the woman who stole a child. Sigaqa said if she could, she would get herself and her children counselling.

“I pray that Joshlin can be found so I can be absolved even though I know I had no involvement in her disappearance,” she said.

Police continue to search for Joshlin.

The group are back in court on May 13.

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