Phumeza Mgqwaki is hopeful that her daughter Mampho Mgqwaki, 14, who disappeared from her home in Kuyasa, four weeks ago, will return home.
The 46-year-old’s nightmare began when her only daughter said she was going to a second-hand clothing stand behind her home, and never returned.
Mgqwaki walks Enkanini informal settlement daily, carrying a photo of Mampho, searching for her.
Mampho’s family believe she has been kidnapped.
“I believe my daughter is locked in one of the shacks built behind the houses around the area. I plead with whoever that took my only daughter to bring her home,” she said.
Many parents in the area shared the fears of the distraught mom.
“It is indeed a problem;children disappear and are introduced to sex at an early age by men living in the hokkies,” said Nonkuthalo Fesi.
Child protection and advocacy group Molo Songololo’s Patrick Solomon said last year alone his organisation had five cases involving the sexual exploitation of teenage girls and two cases involving the disappearance and gang rape of two girls.
“These are common practices among gangs, and groups of men. Girls do not report these crimes committed against them as they feel compromised,” he said.
“They have been groomed and developed emotional feelings for the groomer and abuser.”
Ward councillor Andile Lili said: “I have just been meeting with the Harare station commander and other stakeholders to find ways to fight crime in the area, including sexual exploitation of young girls.”
Harare police station’s Colonel Tshotleho Raboliba confirmed a case of a missing child had been opened.