From the news desk

Amber Alert gives a lifeline to families with missing children

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By Tougheeda Doovey

An innovative new app has been launched that gives Facebook users an immediate alert, when a child has gone missing within a 160 km radius from where they are located. Called the “Amber alert”, the digital application aims to better the services of the SAPS. The National Commissioner addressed the media this week saying this will assist mobilising public support using social media. It would help as police officers don’t need to post missing person images on poles.
National police spokesperson Col Brenda Muridili said that technology is used daily and is a way of communicating messages faster.

“Whether you follow the police service or not on Facebook, you will receive an amber alert if you are within 160 km radius within the missing child. Facebook approached South Africa about using this app to better the success of finding missing children. It is a new app and has been launched recently,” she told VOC Breakfast Beat.

In the most recent case, two-month Kwahlelwa Tiwane, who has a twin, went missing after Karabo Tau, 18, allegedly pretended to be a social worker. She allegedly asked the mother for various documentation of the twins as well as the clinic card.
Karabo had told the mother that she would help with providing food and financial aid to the family. The next day, she told the mother that they would need to go to her office in Parow. The mother along with her children accompanied her to her office in a taxi. Once the taxi stopped at the alleged office, Karabo got out with one of the twins and escaped with Kwahlelwa. The parents have used the ‘Amber Alert’ to help track down their two-month-old baby and are waiting for results.

“People still believe that a certain time period is needed before reporting a missing child. A mother or father knows their own child and if there are concerns then it is best to report it immediately. There is no time period on reporting missing child, as it is a matter of urgency,” said Muridili.

“When a child goes missing the family needs to follow the procedure of going to the police station, reporting when the child was last seen, what they were wearing and importantly a recent photo.”

It is reported by Missing Children South Africa statistics that 77% of missing children are found, while the other 23% are found dead or not found at all. The safety of children is very important and the “Amber alert” brings hope to the cases of those who are missing now.

The fear that children have when they are kidnapped becomes more unbearable as seconds go by. Always remember what your child is wearing and always ask about their whereabouts when you are not present. Remind them to walk in groups and never alone even if it is to go to the shop. Under no circumstance should you allow your child to travel alone via public transport if they are of a young age.

The “amber alert” originated from the United States, where it is used to put out an alert on abducted children. With technology being in demand and of high usage the “Amber alert” can be used via Facebook. If someone sees an “Amber alert”, where they have seen the missing child, immediately report where the child was seen, it can be redirected to the given location. This will help to broaden the search of the missing child if a new location within 160 km radius is provided.

Muridili emphasised that when you feel your case is not getting the urgency it needs, you can speak to the Station commissioner if he/she is available. If you cannot get through to the Station Commissioner, then you can contact 08600 1011.


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