A Pretoria mother says she is furious that her three-year-old son’s alleged kidnapper was released due to insufficient evidence, following a traumatic ordeal at a well-known hotel in Durban on Thursday night.

Speaking to The Weekly Gazette, the 30-year-old mum of two said she cannot believe what a nightmare she and her family had to endure at the hotel, whilst visiting Durban for a family wedding. “We had just booked into the 11th floor and around 7pm I was in my room praying. My sister was with me and my three-year-old son was running in and out of the room in to the corridor with his cousin (sister’s seven-year-old son). My husband and my brother-in-law were in the next room. My nephew then returns and inquired about my son. Immediately, alarm bells went off inside of me.

“My sister and I quickly checked in with my husband who said my son was not with him. We then proceeded to check along our floor if he perhaps wandered into the lift or down the staircase,” the traumatized mum said.

“As I walked pass the rooms, I heard my son crying. I ran to the door of the room on our floor. I banged on the door and pleaded with the occupant to open the door and let my son go. There was no response. Just my son crying. I was frantic. My husband also banged on the door and suddenly there were no sounds. My heart stopped beating. During my frenzy, I broke a window in the passage. Then I heard a woman screaming, ‘I am not abducting’. The hotel security attempted to open the door and the woman only relented when she saw his walkie talkie radio.

“My son ran out to me and the woman had her face covered with a scarf. She did not want to be identified. I grabbed my son and checked him in my room; his hands were red. He intimated that the woman had held his hands tightly,” added the distraught mother.

According to the mum, she was informed that the suspect has been a regular at the hotel for the past five years. A case of kidnapping was opened at the local police station and the elderly suspect was arrested and appeared in court on Monday.

Police spokesperson, Col Thembeka Mbhele, said, “The complainant alleged that on 22 February 2018 at about 7pm, she was in her room praying and the children were playing outside. One of the children informed her that her child was not with them.

“She kept calling his name and heard him crying next door, she knocked on the door but the suspect refused to open. The security guards were informed and the suspect opened the door. The child was found crying and the suspect was arrested for kidnapping. Case was withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.”

The Pretoria mum said, “I am appalled that this woman could have been released in this manner. She had my three-year-old son locked in her room and refused to open the door. She is a kidnapper. Her friends allegedly were in the same hotel, on different floors and they were trying to inform us that their ‘colleague’ would not ‘kidnap’ a child. The hotel management was also terribly unhelpful and appeared to have been very protective of the suspect.

“Security in the hotel is lax and after what my family had endured, the hotel management was more concerned about retrieving the money for the window I had broken. They did not even enquire if we were fine or whether we required any counselling after our ordeal.”

She added, “I could have lost my son in the blink of an eye. This woman could do this again. I am afraid for other parents who visit that hotel. Do not leave your children unattended. I felt safe when we booked in at the hotel. But look how that turned out.”

The concerned mum said she was very paranoid about letting her children out of her sight since the horrible incident but has since allowed her son and daughter to return to school and playschool. “The fear and anxiety of that horrid night still gives me the chills and knowing this woman is still out there is even worse,” she said.

The hotel in question was contacted for comment but none was forthcoming at the time of going to print.