Parents across the country were recently shaken by CCTV footage showing how even a momentary distraction could result in your child being kidnapped. The footage, taken at a mall in Umhlanga, depicted a man dressed as mall security calmly walking over to a trolley, picking up the 2-year-old inside and walking off. The child’s grandmother who had turned away -for barely 30 seconds- to pay for her groceries was sent into a state of panic.
The child’s mother has vivaciously defended her mother and stated that she had not been negligent as it happened in a matter of seconds.
National Case Officer for Missing Children South Africa, Bianca van Aswegen, warned that this is a very real occurrence and explained that kidnappers have different motives:
“Unfortunately, we don’t have specific stats, but we’ve definitely seen an increase in kidnapping. (Opportunistic) things like these do happen especially in our shopping malls and the festive season being at a very busy time. We do see kidnapping for human trafficking taking place, we’ve got family abductions that happen and we’ve even got kidnappings that happen for muti related purposes.”
Although kidnappings can be opportunistic during the festive season Van Aswegen advised that there are instances where it could be meticulously planned. She noted that there is no such thing as a “waiting period” when it comes to missing children.
“People are still under this impression that there’s a 24-hour waiting period before reporting a person as missing- THAT DOES NOT EXIST. Please report to your nearest police station IMMEDIATELY. In the case of a shopping mall, report it to the security IMMEDIATELY as well so the shopping centre can go on lock-down and the security footage can be looked at to see if they can find the child. A case also needs to be reported to the police because they’ve got the right protocol to follow.”
As Wegen said that it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your child’s safety.
“I know a lot of people are against it, in a sense that they think it is cruel to put a child on a leash, but you know what? Rather safe than sorry. If you’ve got a child on a leash that is tied to your arm you know that your child is right there with you. And even if you’ve got that, always have your child walk in front of you- never at the back, so you can always keep an eye on them. Even in a trolley.”
TIPS TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD IS NOT KIDNAPPED
• Have an accurate description of your child ready ahead of the festive season, in the event you may need to describe them to officers or bystanders
• Remain vigilant at all times, try to avoid going shopping alone with your child.
• Be certain that your battery is charged before you leave and that you are able to get in contact with reliable people. Have all emergency numbers at hand
• Identify security officials and possible exits.
• Dress your child in brightly coloured cloths so that they are easily identifiable
• Make use of digital devices, such as smart watches, that allow you to track your child’s whereabouts.
• If you are separated, teach your child to stand in one spot and call to you as loud as they can. It is important that they understand the danger of walking off trying to find you.
• Never send your child or children to the bathroom alone. Ensure they are accompanied by an adult at all times.
• IMMEDIATELY REPORT YOUR CHILD MISSING to the relevant authorities
The spokesperson said that when a kidnapping takes place, it should be all hands on deck to retrieve the child to safety.
“We really need to stand up and all together and help in a situation like that. People tend to only care about themselves, but it takes a village to raise a child. We, as a community, need to stand together and keep a watchful eye over our children. Whether its down at the beaches, in our communities and even in our shopping centres during this season.”
She appealed to South Africans to remember that they are not exempt and be mindful that all children need to be protected.
“It’s important that people start noticing and realizing what is going on. We’ve really got a problem with our children going missing in South Africa- kidnapping do happen. people need to start opening their eyes and start assisting in situations like that.”
Meanwhile, Ntandoyenkosi Bulose appeared in the Verulam Magistrates on Monday in relation to the aforementioned case. Prosecutor Sabelo Ziqubu said that police are investigating whether the 29-year old, who faces a kidnapping charge, is part of a syndicate. Bulose is currently detained and will appear for his bail hearing on Monday, the 30th December.
MISSING CHILDREN SA: 072 647 7464
CRIME STOP 08600 10111
by Tauhierah Salie