Men who left child in car freed
Johannesburg - The two men arrested for allegedly leaving a small child in a hot car in Welkom at the weekend were released because police did not register a case, a spokesperson said on Monday.
However, a case had since been opened and police planned to re-arrest the two, Captain Stephen Thakeng said.
He confirmed a report in Beeld newspaper that car guards saw the 4-year-old girl locked in the car outside the Goldfields mall on Saturday while temperatures were in the upper 30s. A paramedic they called broke a window to give her water and get her out.
Centre security made three announcements for the owner of the car in the mall and at the nearby casino. The two men arrived two hours later, saying they had gone shopping for shoes.
They were arrested on charges of child neglect.
The child's 23-year-old mother was summoned to the scene. She said the men had taken the child in the car without her permission. The child was treated in the ambulance and released.
Thakeng said the reason for the police not opening a case on Saturday and then releasing the men on Sunday would be the subject of an internal inquiry.
When it emerged that no docket had been registered, one was opened and plans were afoot to re-arrest three people. When the two were apprehended, they reportedly said the owner of the car had run away.
Parents should not lock their children in their cars, Thakeng said.
"They must rather leave them at home or leave the shopping spree if the children don't want to continue."
Derrick Banks, spokesperson for private emergency service ER24, said a car left in the sun could become like an oven.
"With outside temperatures of approximately 33°C, the inside of the vehicle can easily reach over 50°C in 20 minutes. Even with a window left open, the inside of the vehicle can reach well over 60°C in just 40 minutes."
In these conditions a child or baby would become severely dehydrated and lose life-sustaining electrolytes.
"If this condition is not corrected immediately the child can go into heat stroke and will be unable to sweat, thus increasing the body core temperature to a dangerously high condition."
This could lead to seizures, brain damage, liver or kidney failure and even death.
Banks said paramedics saw children left in cars every day.
"People don't report it. They will rather walk past the vehicle and say 'bad parent', instead of just breaking the window," he said.
"Under no circumstances should you leave your child [or pet] in a vehicle, even if a window is left open and you know you will only be away for a few minutes."
He advised motorists to ensure that children had left the car, to avoid accidentally locking them in.
Children removed from a vehicle after being left unattended in the heat should undergo a medical examination to determine if they had any signs or symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke.