Two 14-year-old girls disappeared from their Pretoria home on Friday afternoon, allegedly at the behest of a 21-year-old man they had been chatting to on MXit.
The father of one of the girls, who asked to be identified only as Wikus, said he investigated their disappearance himself.
“We reported it to the police, but a friend and I started our own investigation.
“We went through their cellphone records and contact books and established they were chatting to this guy in Kempton Park.”
They went to the address and found his daughter, her friend and the man inside. He called the police, who arrested the man on a charge of abduction.
Police spokesman Captain Jan Sepato confirmed that a 21-year-old man was being held in custody and would appear in court today.
Wikus said that, though he understood that MXit was a “cheap communications tool”, he believed it should be outlawed or that parents should refuse to allow their children access to it.
“ I don’t know who my kids are talking to. There is absolutely no way to establish if your young children are talking to older people and what their motives may be.
“My advice to parents is to get your children off MXit.”
This case is the latest in a string involving teenagers and the popular cellphone service.
In April, a 15-year-old girl from Orania, Chantelynn Janse van Rensburg, ran away from home to live with someone she met on MXit.
In a similar case, Ermelo teenager Hannelie Grabie was found two days after her disappearance. She too had met an older man, in Nelspruit, through the MXit chat room.
The head of the police’s Missing Persons Bureau, Superintendent Fanie van Deventer , said he was worried about an increasing number of children running away after meeting people in chat rooms.
He said MXit was not the only social network contributing to the problem.
“Parents should check up on their children and know who they are talking to, ” Van Deventer said.
The Times forwarded a list of questions to the MXit service, but brand manager Carole Rufiange simply referred us to previous press statements .
MXit chief executive Herman Heunis has rebutted those blaming the service for a number of incidents involving teenagers.
He said that people who fall victim to opportunists ignore MXit’s warning not to reveal personal information.