KwaZulu-Natal police said on Sunday that a social media story about officers helping a boy who had been caught stealing — by assisting him with groceries instead of arresting him — was not quite true. Yes, police did come to the help of a KZN resident, but just not in the way the post claimed. The post, most notably by @AdvBarryRoux on Twitter, started circulating from before 7am on Sunday morning.
The post — a faceless account in the name of the prosecutor who rose to prominence during the Oscar Pistorius case — read: “Durban SAPS caught a boy stealing & they ask him why, he said he’s living alone with koko in unbearable situation with no food neither a roof to sleep, instead of arresting the boy Police went to see where he stay & they couldn’t helpselves but bringing them something to eat.
But KZN police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker said that this wasn’t the case. While police did in fact help out, details were incorrect. The child is a girl, not a boy, and she wasn’t accused of theft — instead, she approached police for help after a fight with her mom. On October 23 this year, a 13-year-old girl arrived at the Durban railway station and requested assistance from police officers. She informed police officers that she was chased away from home by her mother after an altercation in regard to clothes that she wanted.
“Police then took the child to her mother in Dassenhoek. When they interviewed the mother, the mother confirmed the story. The police then took the child to a granny in Umbumbulu,” said Naicker. What officers found there was heartbreaking, and spurred them to take action.
“When they arrived in Umbumbulu they found that the granny was living in extreme poverty and the house was not in a very good condition. First they arranged for clothing for the child, as she did not have clothes. They then arranged for groceries for the child and grandmother.
“They also contacted the local councillor, who promised them they would build a new house for the grandmother. They also arranged with the municipality for electricity for the grandmother’s house,” said Naicker. Pictures attached to the social media post, showing the police officers carrying groceries to the dilapidated house — which is also pictured — were accurate, Naicker added.
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