Cousins Guilty of Kidnapping Child, Extortion

TWO cousins were yesterday found guilty of kidnapping a nine-year-old girl in 2011 and of extortion by a Swakopmund magistrate.

Veyonne Beukes (23) and Dylan Stramis (18) of Windhoek, kidnapped the girl in December and demanded a N$30 000 ransom from her mother for her release.

Beukes pleaded guilty to kidnapping and extortion, while Stramis only pleaded guilty to kidnapping. They will be sentenced on 1 August after the legal parties concerned discuss the matter with the victim’s family for possible mitigation.

The family is currently living in Germany.

In a plea before regional magistrate Gaynor Poulton, Beukes admitted through her defence lawyer Mpokiseng Dube that she was driving “aimlessly” in Swakopmund when she by coincidence, saw the girl.

Beukes said she then asked the girl to drive with her and Stramis to a coffee shop. She said they had “no intention” of kidnapping the girl or holding her hostage for purposes of demanding ransom.

According to her plea, they ended up on the beach where they allowed the girl to phone her mother to inform her of her whereabouts.

It was then, according to Beukes, that she jokingly told the girl to tell her mother that she would have to pay N$30 000 if the family wanted to see her again.

“This joke eventually spiralled out of control,” she said in her plea. “I sincerely regret and apologise to the parents and the girl for what I did and will never do it again. I ask the court for mercy.”

Stramis, represented by Lana Fouche, also admitted that he was an accomplice in kidnapping the girl and did it out of his free will.

He said he convinced the girl to drive and stay with them and that he was never aware of Beukes’ intentions. Stramis also said he regretted his actions.

Poulton said the court was satisfied with their pleas and found them guilty of the charges they faced.

The girl’s father said his daughter was riding a bicycle when she left home in Vineta with her elder sister (16) going to town to buy ice cream. On their return, the elder sister left the girl to cycle home alone while she went to see a friend.

The father said the cousins approached the girl after her sister had left and asked her where they could get something to eat and to drink. They also asked her to show them some places.

He said while they were driving around, Beukes was SMSing the girl’s mother demanding ransom and threatening to hurt the girl if the family called in the police.

With the help of a private security firm and the police, the suspects were trapped when they turned up at the agreed place for the payment.

Police told The Namibian then that it was an unusual case since the girl was kidnapped by strangers at the peak of the holiday season and during broad daylight in an affluent part of Swakopmund.

After several failed attempts to get bail, the two eventually were released on N$7 000 bail in 2012.

Source : The Namibian