A child safety pilot project has been launched in Hanover Park by the City of Cape Town to fast-track community response times in cases where children go missing.
The plan is to use existing City resources in Hanover Park to solidify the response in the event of a child disappearing. “The idea is quite simple,” said Suzette Little, the City’s Mayco member for social development and early childhood development. “We want to ensure that the community knows what to do as soon as it becomes apparent that a child has disappeared. Those first two hours after a person goes missing are crucial and the more resources we can co-ordinate and mobilise in that time, the better the chances of finding them.”
In terms of the protocol that the City has developed, a suburb co-ordinator is appointed and in the event of an incident, they are informed and are responsible for:
Getting relevant information from the family, including recent photographs.
Informing the 107 Public Emergency Communication Centre and relevant missing persons organisations.
Activating the City’s Metro police and Traffic Services to set up vehicle checkpoints or use the City’s CCTV technology to assist in the search, and liaising with the South African Police Service.
Mobilising the community to set up search parties and distribute information, photographs and flyers.
Publishing details of the missing child via social media channels and other information-sharing platforms.
The City urged parents to ask a trustworthy neighbour to keep an eye on their children when they are at work, to teach children about fire safety and what to do in an emergency and to ensure that they know the 107 number – that is 107 from a landline and 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.