| Faza Suraj |
A TODDLER is suspected to have fallen victim to physical abuse after he went missing on Saturday, November 1, 2014.
His parents told the Bulletin they fear history may repeat itself as the teenager who is believed to have taken the two-year-old away, was released after being held in custody for a day.
The parents, who wished to remain anonymous, alleged the 11-year-old teen is known among people in the neighbourhood to be involved in theft and asking people for money.
They explained that their child had allegedly gone missing for over five hours. When he was found, he appeared fatigued and in a state of shock. He also had injuries on his face.
“The doctor said the bruises on our son’s face could be from blunt trauma inflicted by a person. We believe our child was forced into something he was unwilling to do and was subsequently injured,” the father said.
“What concerns us the most is that the alleged perpetrator is roaming around the neighbourhood.
“We also worry the incident might repeat itself – not only to our children but also the children of other families residing in the area. We were made to understand that a few months ago, another child had allegedly been taken away to roam the nearby towns (Seria and Belait),” he added.
Days after the incident, the victim – who is the 10th of 11 children – remains traumatised.
Telling his story, the father explained that on the day of the incident, he was at home, asleep with his five children. He woke up at 10am to find that his second youngest child was not at home, and that his siblings were unaware of his whereabouts.
“I immediately called my wife hoping she knew (of his whereabouts) but to no avail. I went to the nearby school to check if my other children knew of his whereabouts. They didn’t.
“I then called my sibling to ask for help. After half an hour, my brother-in-law started searching in Seria town. He was informed that the teen was allegedly seen boarding a bus headed to Kuala Belait with a child.
“Learning this, I headed immediately to Belait town to find my child. I went to many shops to enquire if they had seen the duo, but they too claimed to have seen no one,” the father said.
Fighting back tears, he continued, “Thankfully at around 1pm, I received a call informing me the police had found my child and that he was at the Kuala Belait Police Station.
“My wife and I quickly headed to the station. We were sad to see my child in that condition and took him to the hospital for assessment of injuries and treatment.
“Although we understand the culprit is underage, is it safe to let him roam free rather than put him in a facility where he can receive professional help?” the father asked.
An investigating officer at the Seria Police Station told the Bulletin investigations are still ongoing.
“According to the law, an 11-year-old cannot be charged and that it can be categorised under ‘juvenile delinquency’.”
After a police report was lodged by the father, police personnel were deployed to locate the child. They scoured the vicinity of Barek Lorong Tiga in Seria and the bus station but failed to find him.
Later, with the help of Kuala Belait Police Station officers, the teen was taken into custody at the Kuala Belait Police Station. He was then locked up at the Seria Police Station.
The officer said, “In preliminary investigations, the teenager claimed he went to the victim’s house in search of the victim’s brother, who was not at home. He said the little boy then followed him, and when the teen tried to send the toddler back home, he cried.
“The police will continue investigations as the teenager has been identified to be involved with thefts and in asking for money in town. We see this not as a kidnapping but as taking the child without the permission of his parents, with a possibility of exploiting the child for the teenager’s purposes.”
The officer denied receiving similar reports, explaining that last Saturday’s incident was the first.