Cape Town launches rapid response missing persons unit

2017-06-06 18:09
SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Cape Town has set up a rapid response programme to fast-track searches after an upsurge in the number of missing children who have been found dead in the Western Cape.

"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," councillor JP Smith said on Tuesday.

Led by the city's "Women in Rental Stock" programme, it aims to block off access to and from a suburb, quickly gather a photograph and description of a missing person's clothing, check CCTV, and co-ordinate a rapid response between police, NGOs and residents.

READ: South Africa: A country where women and children end up as grim stats

The city's social development department would select suburb co-ordinators who would be trained to respond quickly to a missing person report.

The announcement followed the most recent murders of children - 3-year-old Courtney Pieters of Elsies River and 5-year-old Minentle Lekhakha of Strand.

President Jacob Zuma initially expressed concern about complaints that police had not done enough to find Pieters. However, at a later engagement in Elsies River, he said these allegations were unfounded.

The initiative would be introduced to Lotus River, Ravensmead, Uitsig, Hanover Park, Athlone, Manenberg, Lavender Hill and Macassar, said Smith, who is the city's mayoral committee member for safety and security.

City Mayor Patricia de Lille started the Women in Rental Stock Programme, in response to pleas for help in distressing situations in some suburbs.

The women were employed as part of the Extended Public Works Programme and chosen because they knew their areas.

Read more on:    patricia de lille  |  cape town  |  child abuse  |  crime

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