Keep an eye on your kids in holidays
Appeal as missing children reunited with families
THE MITCHELLS Plain Community Police Forum reunited eight lost children with their families at Mnandi Beach on Boxing Day, prompting them to reiterate their call for parents to be vigilant about their children, especially during the festive season.
Abie Isaacs, chairman of the forum, said eight lost children were reunited with their families after they went missing at Mnandi Beach on Thursday.
Many of the children were younger than six, and some parents couldn’t even provide police with a description of what their children were wearing.
Isaacs said there was an element of alcohol involved in some of the cases.
“To put it bluntly, these parents are irresponsible and it is horrifying to think that these children are left to wander the beaches by themselves, without anyone watching or taking care of them. Some took as long as four hours before they reported the child missing.”
One child from Heinz Park came to the beach with neighbours, who left the beach without him.
“All the child could tell was that he was from Heinz Park. Luckily, we were able to contact some of the community leaders, and the child was returned to his family. But people need to put a stop to the general attitude of ‘it’s the beach, someone else will look after my child’.
“As a parent or guardian, it’s your responsibility to ensure children are safe and not left to wander on their own,” Isaacs said.
The City of Cape Town’s identikit programme, used to tag children at the beaches, has helped keep down the number of lost children. However, officials cannot cover all entry points to the beaches.
JP Smith, mayco member for safety and security, said it was extremely difficult, because of the openness of the beaches, to enforce the identikit programme at a single control point. “People with alcohol will sneak through the points without officials to get their booze on to the beach. Their impaired judgment also puts any children with them at risk, along with any lifeguard on duty in case they decide to go for a drunken swim.
“We ask all beachgoers to follow the rules and always keep an eye on their children,” he said.
Basil Coetzee, chairman of the Lentegeur Community Police Forum (CPF), said the festive season often brought its own challenges for police and safety authorities, particularly tracking down missing children.
“We know people get swept up in the silly season, and often parents have a few drinks and leave children neglected. We’ve seen children as young as 10 years old walking around late at night, or going to beaches by themselves.”
He added that people often wasted the time of the authorities too, failing to note their children’s whereabouts, then reporting them missing, when they were with family or friends.
“Both parents and their children should take responsibility, and let each other know their whereabouts at all times. It takes a huge amount of resources to search for missing children, and those resources shouldn’t be wasted on false alarms.”
Dessie Rechner, director of the Pink Ladies, said the festive season brought a significant increase in the number of missing people.
“It comes like a wave during the festive season. When the schools close we see an increase in the number of runaways. Our message is the same as it is all year round – parents need to take responsibility for their children, and stay close to them.”
Initiatives like tagging a child and ensuring they always have their parents’ contact numbers could make a world of difference. “Both initiatives give nearby adults details of the child, including the parents’ numbers. Older children should SMS parents whenever they go somewhere.”.
‘It’s your responsibility to ensure children are safe and not left to wander on their own’