A string of messages doing the rounds on social media warning that children are being kidnapped in suburbs on the Cape Flats is sowing panic amongst parents. This week alone, VOC News received several Whatsapp messages stating that kids are being abducted, but have been unable to obtain any eyewitness reports, other than official police statements.
“We are aware of the warnings and allegation posted on social media platforms but cannot substantiate the legitimacy thereof due to a lack of evidence. We urge people to refrain from posting false rumours about child abduction on social media,” said Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut.
“We can confirm that a single case of attempted kidnapping was registered for investigation on 1st June in Strand where a ten year old girl was allegedly approached by an unidentified female driving a white Toyota Quantum who asked her to come to her vehicle. The child managed to escape the situation and as yet, no one has been arrested,” he explained.
“On June 8th, a case of crimen injuria was registered for an incident where an adult female took photographs of a child in a mall in Somerset West. The person implicated in the matter has reported to police and submitted a statement. The case docket has since been referred to the court for a decision regarding possible prosecution.”
These incidents are the only cases currently under investigation.
“We strongly encourage children to be frequently sensitised of crime and dangerous situations in a responsible manner at all times. It is also worthy to mention that any concern regarding the safety of your child or your neighbourhood are best addressed by your local police station,” said Traut.
According to one unverified post, seen on Facebook, four children were taken in Eerste River, while another two were abducted at Blossom Primary in Silvertown. Another post on Tuesday stated that two children were kidnapped at Sonderend primary in Manenberg.
Manenberg police spokesperson Lt. Ian Bennet said he had visited the school and all children were accounted for. He said these hoax messages were an attempt by an individual to create panic in the community, adding this would have a major impact on families.
“Parents will stay out of work to look after their kids. There will be a loss of money, which many cannot afford at the moment. Some children are going to be kept at home, and most kids are writing exams now, so it will be detrimental to them.”
He has urged people to refrain from posting false rumours about child abduction on social media.
“If anyone knows someone spreading these rumours, please report them. The public must note that any such incidents will only be communicated via the police and mainstream media.”
Parents need to make their children more aware about the dangers of interacting with strangers, he added.
“If children see anything out of the ordinary, they should report it to their educators or call the police on 10111. Parents should also contact their local police if they see anything of concern.” VOC