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Kidnappings in South Africa tend to be done by people known to the child

Katlego Joja was found murdered in Mamelodi, Tshwane.
Katlego Joja was found murdered in Mamelodi, Tshwane.

The Missing Persons Bureau states that a child goes missing every five hours in the country.

Over the past year, since May 2017 to April 2018, they have had an overall success rate of 71% missing persons found, including adults and kids.

"It is an unfortunate reality that 2% of the children found were found deceased," says Bianca van Aswegen, the national case officer. She says among the cases reported countrywide, 94 were runaways, 19 kidnappings, two involved in human trafficking, while 10 were mentally challenged and two were lost.

Gauteng tops their list with 60 missing children and only 45 found over the last year.

Most missing cases involve children aged 13 to 17 years.

Van Aswegen says their busiest period was in October 2016 with 51 cases reported.

Van Aswegen states there are different reasons why children go missing. "We deal mostly with runaways, kidnappings, family abductions and human trafficking. It has become more apparent that kidnappings happen by people that are known to the child or a family member themselves."

Missing Persons SA says the most important thing when a child has gone missing is to not wait a long time to report it to the police.

"There is no waiting period at all even though people are under the impression they have to wait 24 hours, which does not exist.

"Also, parents should be very vigilant when their children are on any social media sites as these sites are a platform for predators. Children should always stay in a group when on an outing," says van Aswegen.

While they have a high success rate, some people are never found.

She notes the case of Cape Town's Matthew Olson's family who went missing in 1997, when he was nine years old.

He had gone outside to take out the bin and was never seen again.

Back in the 1980s, the disappearance of six young girls in 1988 and 1989 caused nationwide alarm.

Their faces were plastered on milk cartons to no avail.

Gert van Rooyen and Joey Haarhoff were linked to their disappearance.

Joan Horn, 13, Odette Boucher, 11, Anne-Marie Wapenaar, 12, Yolande Wessels, 12, Fiona Harvey, 12, and Tracy-Lee Scott were never found.

The scourge of missing kids in South Africa is shocking.
The scourge of missing kids in South Africa is shocking.

Rape and murder of kids alarming

Mortimer Saunders is on trial at the Western Cape High Court for the rape and murder of three-year-old Courtney Peters.

She was found in a shallow grave in May last year, days after she was reported missing. Saunders admitted to poisoning the child and performing sexual acts on the corpse.

  • A 10-year-old girl in Verulam, KZN, was rescued by a neighbour who learnt that her stepfather, 43, was raping her over a period of five years. For the four months of the man renting a room, the girl, whose mother is deceased, never left home. Residents, mostly women, beat him up and he was arrested. He will appear on July 25 and faces charges of sexual grooming and rape.
  • Iyapha Yamile, from Khayelitsha, was made to dance naked in her attacker's shack with the promise of being rewarded with R45. Odwa Nkololo confessed a year ago that he tried to rape the four-year-old but was not able to penetrate her and therefore killed her. He has since disputed the confession. She went missing on April 30 2017 after visiting her aunt and her body was found, stuffed in a bag, the next day not far from her house. While in custody, it emerged that he was also charged for the rape of an eight year old girl, six weeks before Iyapha's murder. Judgment is expected tomorrow.
  • Rowena Matshinyatsimbi was 19 months old when she disappeared in 2013 from her home on a military base in Nigel, where her mom is an SANDF officer. She was never found. Her boyfriend was the last person to see the child.
  • The autistic Katlego "Katli" Joja, 10, from Mamelodi went missing in May this year. Police told the family to report the case after 24 hours, but the child was found dead in the Moretele River the next day. No arrests have been made.
  • Veronisha Adams uses social media to post pics of herself, hoping her twin sister Veronique, kidnapped more than 23 years ago, will be found. The identical twins from Eldorado Park were 11 months old and left in the care of their nanny on March 6 1989. She vanished without trace, taking Veronique with her.

Women and Men Against Child Abuse this week launched the #MiniMeToo, a campaign that aims to give sexually abused children a voice. It follows the #MeToo campaign.

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