Kidnapped six-year-old Shasha-Lee’s parents should have been interrogated nine years ago

Shasha-Lee November, six, was kidnapped in 2015 in Hanover Park. file image

Shasha-Lee November, six, was kidnapped in 2015 in Hanover Park. file image

Published May 7, 2024


Cape Town - Nine years after six-year-old Shasha-Lee November was kidnapped outside her home in Hanover Park, a former top cop, her own sister, and the people who searched for her, say the investigation should have been driven closer to home.

Shasha-Lee mysteriously disappeared on May 3, 2015, from her Groenall Walk home.

A vigil was held at the weekend in commemoration of her disappearance.

This week, Colonel Dawood Laing, who is retired and was the station commander at the time of Shasha-Lee’s kidnapping, her sister Jasmine Harris and Saafia Samuels, who led the search for the little girl, said more should have been done to look at suspects closer to home, after the child was last seen walking with a known or unknown man, according to witness accounts.

In a chilling twist, Groenall Walk has become known for three missing persons cases involving young girls, that of Shasha-Lee, Sadieka Titus, 16 and Michelle Plaatjies, 16.

Plaatjies was living in Groenall Walk when she disappeared in October 1999.

Titus went missing on March 24, 2013, and has never been seen since.

Laing said Shasha-Lee’s case had many holes in it, including that her parents, Sandra and Calvin November, were not properly questioned and interrogated as in the latest case of Joshlin Smith, whose mother, Racquel “Kelly” Smith and her boyfriend, Jacquen “Boeta” Appolis are facing charges relating to her disappearance in Saldanha Bay.

Both Shasha-Lee’s parents have since died.

“The case was registered as a missing person case,” Laing explained.

“Later it was changed to kidnapping as community members gave statements that they saw this child being taken away by an unknown person.

“The major lessons that were learned were that Saps, CPF, Missing Persons, Pink Ladies, and NGO structures have depended too much on the missing child and not on the circumstances of the home.

“This would have been critical in the investigation.

“The parents were only later questioned thoroughly, unlike in Joshlin’s case in Saldanha, where the mother was arrested very shortly after she was reported missing.”

Cape Town - 150505 - Clive and Sandra November speak to the Cape Argus at the Philippi police station after their youngest daughter, Shasha-Lee November’s disappearance. Reporter: Emily Huizenga Picture: David Ritchie

Laing said both Shasha-Lee’s parents were drug addicts and little pressure had been placed on them at the time.

A R250 000 reward was offered by the City of Cape Town for the child’s safe return.

Laing added vital information such as the detective’s telephone number had not been placed on the pamphlet, which led to evidence being lost - and that the Department of Social Development had also failed the child.

“Community members stormed to the address of the victim and information was given, of which some never came through to Saps,” he said.

“I also think that the Department of Social Development failed her.

“There were reports to them of child neglect and drug abuse by her parents.

“Their proper investigation could have prevented this incident.

“The school also reported behaviour problems to social development and education structures.

“The school, Belmore Primary, was also helpful with information.”

Harris said she called for police to have searched closer to home and did not want to comment further.

Saafia Samuels of G Force and formerly of Women 2 Women, who had been part of the first team of volunteers to search for the child, said vital evidence should be revisited.

Police spokesperson, FC van Wyk, said the case was ongoing and not closed.

“Kindly be advised that the matter you are referring to is still under investigation. There are no developments to report to the media at this stage.”

Bianca van Aswegen of Missing Children SA said they continued to share Shasha-Lee’s poster in the hopes that she could be found.

“We believe all cold cases should not be forgotten and should be revisited,” she said.

The Department of Social Development said it would be investigating the claims of neglect in the case.

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Cape Argus