Local women take on missing persons

2017-06-13 09:01

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Local women in council flats will drive a new initiative aimed at fast-tracking missing person cases, particularly when children disappear.

People’s Post previously reported on the City of Cape Town’s women in rental stock programme which was piloted in Kewtown last year (“Women take project further”, 15 May).

The initiative aims to ensure a fast response through coordination of various roleplayers when a person goes missing. These roleplayers include the City, the police, NGOs and communities.

The initiative is being rolled out in Athlone, Hanover Park, Lavender Hill, Lotus River and Manenberg.

The City’s social development and early childhood development department will, with the local ward councillors and community structures, identify candidates to act as suburb coordinators. Training will be provided to communities on how to coordinate, respond to, report and participate in a missing person case, including using social media.

“The hours immediately following a person disappearing present a small window of opportunity to find them. Recent research has revealed that it takes as little as two hours to move a person out of the province. It is therefore imperative that we are able to launch a well-coordinated response as soon as possible,” says JP Smith, Mayco member for safety, security, and social services.

Among others, the initiative aims to:
. raise the alarm with the suburb coordinator;
. make photographs and a description of clothing worn available for briefing search parties, pamphlets and social media;
. alert City enforcement agencies to shut down access to the suburb, search all vehicles and use CCTV and public address systems to warn the community; and
. mobilise community search parties.

“We’re starting the initiative in our communities where the women in rental stock programme is in place because they are already active in their communities and familiar with the landscape. This is in line with our organisational development and transformation plan, which seeks to bring services and assistance closer to communities.

“The success of this initiative will depend on those involved. We’re losing too many children to predators and while this initiative is not a silver bullet, it is a start to ensuring a more comprehensive response during those critical hours in the immediate aftermath of a kidnapping or disappearance,” adds Smith.

In another child safety initiative, the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department hosted an event in Parow on Thursday last week to mark International Children’s Day.

The purpose of the event was to tell children, parents and early childhood development (ECD) staff about the rights and responsibilities of a child and to inform parents how to provide an adequate standard of living for their children’s physical, mental and social development.

“The well-being of children is everyone’s responsibility. This includes parents, the community, and all three spheres of government. Children who start out with a solid basic education grow into more productive and socially confident adults. A child’s basic education starts with the early childhood development centre that he attends and that is why it is so important that each of the more than 2500 ECD centres in Cape Town are registered so that each child is given a fair opportunity to prosper and grow,” says Smith.

The event gave the children an opportunity to showcase their talents and the stages in their growth through recitations and songs. Parents were educated on the importance of a good quality ECD programme and the importance of child safety.
ECD operators were informed how to improve and implement a quality ECD programme.


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