Simphiwe Manzini: Full breakdown of the alleged ‘kidnapping’ and ‘prank’ claims
Was Simphiwe Manzini really abducted? Was it all a prank? And who is this Chris Mbedu? A tale webbed with more questions than answers.
Millions of concerned South Africans have gone through a whirlwind of emotions since Simphiwe Manzini posted her first ‘distress’ post on Facebook.
UPDATE: Gauteng police have recently confirmed that Manzini has been placed under arrest and charged with perjury.
“It emerged on a 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. Police confiscated the car of the suspect that she alleged was hijacked and her two cellphones, including the one she claimed was taken by the ‘hijackers’,” police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo wrote.
The original story.
The puzzling Simphiwe Manzini story
A wave of panic was felt across social media when Manzini told her Facebook followers, “I [have] just been hijacked, I’m in the boot of my car. They took my other phone thinking I have one… I’ll update u (sp) till I’m no more.”
An hour later, after posting three more gut-wrenching cries for help, Manzini shared her location on Facebook, claiming that the alleged hijackers had parked at Jackson Dam in Alberton, Johannesburg.
Manzini had told her followers earlier, that she’d shared her Live Location with her friends on WhatsApp. At this time, at least, none of her friends has come forward to corroborate this claim.
Alas, concerned South Africans were following every scent of the alleged kidnapped woman, trying, by all means, to use a small window of opportunity to save a life, in a country where violent attacks of this nature — against females — are prevalent.
Two hours into her ‘ordeal’, Manzini shared her vehicle’s registration plates, along with spine-chilling updates on the horrors she was allegedly experiencing.
At some point (remember, she’s in the trunk the entire time), the kidnappers had allegedly stopped the car and scuffled over “who is going to have sex with me.”
A few minutes after she’d shared her car plates, Manzini posted another location. This time, she’d allegedly been taken all the way to The Glen shopping centre, in the Maboneng district, about an 8.5km drive from her last location.
Who is Chris Mbedu? – Man claims Manzini was pranking SA
This entire time, a man who identified himself as Chris Mbedu, had apparently been using every bit of detail Manzini offered in a concerted effort to track her down and save her life.
In a Facebook post published by Blessings Ramoba, an influential figure with political ties and a reputation in the mining industry on Thursday, Mbedu shared his alleged ordeal in trying to help Manzini:
“I got out of bed at 23:30. Went through her timeline & what I saw scared me. So since I was touched I decided to call a friend of mine who works with me at our Company & we met at the office. We went to a gas station, filled our car tank more than R800 and we started driving at the Locations she shared on Facebook.
“We spent more than R300 on airtime trying to track this lady. Asked the Alberton police for assistance & we were helped by two more nightguard officers who we payed from our own pocket R1500 each.
“We went from The Glen, where it was her last updated location, to Jump streets Trampoline parks and Jackson Dam. But we never found anything.
“We contacted a company with larger resources than ours and gave them her car registration details ( FL 40 XL GP) to see if they had her location on any of their records, and we tracked the car.
“And that’s when we found out that the car is actually at her Home Location . Then Ealier today We received a call from a Police friend of mine and she concluded that the Girl is at the Police station & she drove her car there.”
At this point, Mbedu claims, that’s when he and his friends had realised that Manzini’s ordeal was — in their view — nothing but “a prank gone wrong.”
“The car had no scratches, damages or whatsoever, and she herself didn’t have any scratches as she said on her Facebook post,” Mbedu claimed.
Mbedu’s full testimony can be read here.
Was Simphiwe Manzini kidnapping real? – Here’s what we know
This gob-smacking allegation from Mbedu spread rapidly on social media as soon as it surfaced on Facebook. This unidentified man was, suddenly, the hero who allegedly spent R4100 with his friend, in an effort to save a woman who, according to them, was at her residence the entire time.
Except, on Thursday at 02:42, Manzini posted on Facebook, thanking South Africa unreservedly for her efforts in helping her to safety. She said nothing about her location, who had come to her aid or any clue about how she managed to escape the trunk of her car and found help.
“I’m safe but still need to locate and communicate with my family first, can’t share my location now cause I fear for my life… I’ll update you all soon as I need to rest,” she wrote.
Manzini, 15 minutes later, went on Facebook Live to face South Africans who’d been glued to her timeline the entire time, praying for a miracle.
The woman looked dejected, her eyes blistering red and her voice barely audible. She thanked everyone for her support and claimed that more would be revealed.
In her last post, sent only moments after her Live ended, Manzini criticised the police for their apparent lack of urgency. She wrote:
“SAPS is Nonsense I could have lost my life today.”
The police issued their first statement, following the ordeal, on Thursday. Gauteng spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo confirmed that Manzini has registered a kidnapping case at a police station in Soweto. Interestingly, Masondo pointed out, the alleged victim arrived at the station in the vehicle she was allegedly abducted in.
The police would not be baited into revealing any more information, only admitting that details surrounding the incident were still sketchy at the time.
In her absence from social media, Manzini’s story has been cast out as a complete lie, based on Mbedu’s alleged version of events.
Except, there were a number of concerning issues about this unidentified person’s claim.
- A net-wide search for a person named Chris Mbedu from Johannesburg, returned no results.
- This man’s story was first posted by Michael Gethe. Coincidentally, a search for Gethe turned up no soluble results;
- Gethe’s Facebook page is unverified with more than 87 000 followers. The difference is stark compared to his Instagram and Twitter following.
- Also, a reverse image search on the images he used in his profiles turned up an interesting fact: The man we see in his profiles is actually Keith Powers, an American actor.
- Therefore, we can reasonably conclude that a person went to great lengths to mask their identity on social media, in order to share this controversial alternative version of Manzini’s alleged abduction.
- Moreover, this ‘Mbedu’ claims to work for a small tracking company in Johannesburg. According to the Gmail address he listed when he demanded a formal response from Manzini, the company in question is Fort Blue Tracking.
- Of course, a search on the existence of such a company on CIPC turned up no results.
It seems, without doing much due diligence, Ramoba’s verified Facebook page, may have influenced a new narrative on Manzini’s alleged ordeal.
This speculation and the uncertainty surrounding Manzini’s alleged abduction remains without clarity. The police are expected to provide updates on their inquest and as the tide turns against her, Manzini is expected to address the public about what actually happened.