Alarm over increase in cases of missing children
POLICE say they have recorded more than four times the number of missing children reported to the Missing Children South Africa.
The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities spokesman Cornelius Monama said they were shocked by the figures.
The MCSA recorded 345 cases of missing children which were reported last year while the police said they were alarmed that so many children have gone missing.
Monama said: "The incidents of missing children is a matter of grave concern to the department."
Of the cases reported to MCSA last year, 295 were subsequently found, a success rate of 86%.
Lieutenant-Colonel Fanie van Denventer of the SAPS Missing Persons Bureau said most children who go missing are between the ages of 13 and 18.
Gauteng had the highest number of missing persons at 251, followed by the Western Cape at 172. Only three were reported to MCSA in the Northern Cape during the year.
Teenagers were most likely to go missing, with 190 reported missing. Eighty-three were between seven and 12 years old and 72 were aged six and below.
The parents of two 14-year-old Mpumalanga girls were lucky to have their daughters returned to them after they went missing on Tuesday.
They were found uninjured the following day in Brakpan, on the East Rand, when it emerged that a 21-year-old ex-boyfriend of one the girls was with them. He was arrested and charged with abduction.
The leading reason for children's disappearances was running away, at 26%. Almost a quarter got lost, and 8% were abducted by strangers.
Parental and family abductions accounted for six and 1% respectively. In 32% of cases the cause of disappearance was unknown.
Three percent were found dead.
"We believe that awareness programmes that target young people themselves as well as parents and caregivers will assist us to turn the tide against child disappearances," Monama said.
He reiterated that the protection of children is everyone's responsibility.
"We call on those who are entrusted with the responsibility to care for our children to be vigilant at all times. We call upon members of our communities to work with government and co-operate with our law-enforcement agencies as we collectively seek to protect our children," he said.
Denventer advised that children not trust people offering them any form of employment especially through chat rooms or social networking sites.
He dispelled a common misconception that there was a waiting period before people can be reported as missing. - firstname.lastname@example.org