SAPS and Facebook launch Amber alert to help find missing children

SAPS and Facebook launch Amber alert to help find missing children.
SAPS and Facebook launch Amber alert to help find missing children.
Image: 123RF/lculig

Social media giant Facebook has teamed up with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to find missing children using a child abduction emergency alert commonly known as Amber alert.

South Africa is the first country in Africa to receive this programme and the 23rd in the world. 

Lt-Gen Tebello Mosikili said this programme has seen a success in countries such as Ecuador and Australia.  

"We are going to be launching a programme seeking to find missing children. We have a pandemic on our hands."

She said this was part of combating crimes against women and children. 

"An average of more than 200 children will be reported missing every month."

Only half of these children are found while the rest of the cases go cold. 

Mosikili said they were approached by Facebook which presented to them how it can assist in recovering the children.

Mosikili said after a case file is opened, it will be sent to the bureau of missing persons which will then send the information to Facebook. 

Emily Vatcher, director of trust and safety at Facebook, said South Africa has 28-million users who can potentially assist in finding missing children. 

"Starting today, Facebook will send alerts to people who are best able to find the child," she said.

This means that if a child went missing in a particular area, the missing child alert will mostly be sent to people who are in that area. 

"It is important however to note that these will occur rarely and in special circumstances," she said.

Vatcher said there will be a team specifically working on the alerts.

She said children who have been abducted or are believed to be in imminent danger will be prioritised. 

Gen Khehla Sitole said this programme was an important measure to combat violence against women and children. 

"We want to prevent the kidnapping of children and this needs the mobilisation of South Africans," said Sitole. 

"We anticipate a number of tip-offs and we call for your cooperation and support."

He reiterated that there is no waiting period to report that a loved one is missing.

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