From the news desk

Missing persons search group launched following Rene Roman murder

By Melanie Sauer

The Steenberg Community Policing Forum are launching a community missing persons search group that aims to work alongside professional bodies, including the South African Police Services, to help solve cases of missing persons in the Cape Flats.

The “Rene Roman Child Protection Search and Rescuse Volunteer Corp” was launched on Monday night in Lavender Hill, following the brutal murder of the 13 year old last month.

On Tuesday, 50 year old Andrew Plaatjies appeared in the Wynberg court on a charge of murder, after her axed body was found behind his girlfriend’s house. The bail hearing has been postponed until next month. Scores of Lavender Hill residents protested outside the court, calling for the suspect to be denied bail. There was an overwhelming sense of anger as community members hurled slurs at the suspect. Lavender Hill residents say they are sickened by the high levels of crime against women and children in their community.

Speaking to VOC, chairperson of the Steenberg CPF, Lucinda Evans, said community members can change their social conditions by taking collective responsibility for women and children. She is calling upon interested volunteers from all communities within the Cape Flats to join the newly launched search organisation.

The group will work within the ambit of the local Joint Operations Centre, and will be activated “within the golden hour” to search for missing persons. The group will not be restricted to working on missing persons cases, but will also help to implement preventative strategies aimed at creating a safe environment for all children in the Cape Flats communities.

“We feel that the community has come together and we have a unified mandate” said Evans.

“We as parents and community leaders take responsibility for child protection, not just for Lavender Hill but we are going to provide the same services to other communities on the Cape Flats that will need it.”

The group will assist schools with investigations of students who are thought to be missing or residing in “unsavoury places”. The group will also provide support services for children and families, to help reintegrate students into society.

Evans said “We need to look at where communities are and what resources are available to assist within families and within homes, and what services are available in terms of prevention for domestic violence.”

The Steenberg CPF is searching for volunteers that bring a range of skills, including, but not restricted to, driving, hiking, marketing, fundraising and first aid. All volunteers will be subject to a vetting process.

Community members held a meeting on Monday at the Levana Primary School hall in Lavender Hill.

The launch has been in response to the recent increase in children missing person cases in the Cape Flats. VOC

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