Johannesburg – The police in Gauteng have arrested 28-year-old Simphiwe Manzini Mtimande who took to social media on Wednesday night to publicise a hijacking that allegedly never happened.
Simphiwe posted numerous messages on Facebook, claiming she was on the verge of being ra_ped and that she was being allegedly kidnapped by would-be criminals who shoved her in the boot of her Toyota Corolla during a ’hijacking’.
Thousands shared the woman’s ordeal on social media with a hashtag #FindSimphiwe, commenting out of concern as calls for the woman to be found reverberated into Thursday morning.
Well-known figures like Robert Marawa and Casper Nyovest even stepped in to help.
Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said the 28-year-old Simphiwe Manzini Mtimande was charged with perjury, fraud and defeating the ends of justice for opening a false hijacking case at the Protea Glen Police Station in Soweto.
#FindSimphiwe: Simphiwe Manzini Mtimande Finally Found After Kidnapping
She later allegedly confessed to police that she was never hijacked nor kidnapped.
“In her statement given under oath to the police, the suspect described how on Wednesday evening, 19 May 2021, her vehicle was taken by unknown men in Mohlakeng, Randfontein, who put her inside the boot and drove around with her for the better part of the evening.
“A team under the leadership of West Rand District Commissioner Major General Fred Kekana, comprising of senior detectives, members of crime intelligence and other police response units, that worked throughout the night to locate the “hijacked woman” swiftly established discrepancies in the supposed victim’s statement.
“It emerged on further probe that the said hijacking and kidnapping report was false and this was subsequently corroborated by the woman’s confession that she was never kidnapped,” said Masondo.
In one of her apparent fake posts, she posted:
“I just been hijacked. I’m in the boot of my car. They took my other phone thinking I have one. I’ll update you till I’m no more… (sic),” she posted, tagging her location as Mohlakeng, a township in Randfontein, West Rand.
In another post, she posted: “The car has stopped they fighting in on who is going to have se_x with me… (sic),” she posted.
About seven minutes earlier, the woman had posted her car registration numbers: “XXXXXX-GP my number plate… if I die,” she said.
Masondo said the woman would appear at the Protea Magistrates Court on Friday on the three charges of perjury, fraud and defeating the ends of justice.
Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela has welcomed the arrest and commended the police. He said the officers paid thorough attention to detail and were able to swiftly poke holes in the woman’s false report.
He said an urgent search party had been activated to ensure the woman’s safety and members from as far and wide as possible Mpumalanga and the North West had reported a string of social media posts about the said kidnapping and hijacking.
He said “maximum resources” were mobilised to track the vehicle and find the alleged victim
“While at this stage the motive behind this alleged fabrication is unclear, this is something that should be condemned as mischievous and malicious given the time and resources that were promptly deployed as soon as police learnt of this supposed hijacking and kidnapping. “Members of the public are cautioned to refrain from reporting false cases pushing police to deploy resources that should rather be channelled at combating genuine serious and violent crimes,” said Mawela.
The woman had also blasted the “police response” in one of her Facebook posts on Thursday morning, posting on her social media: “SAPS is nonsense. I could have lost my life today”.