In the industry of protection services, we see and hear about a lot of different crimes, threats and attacks, but there are none that keep us up at night quite like the crime that involves children. You may think it is the topic of nightmares, simply monsters in the night that only exist in our fears, but the reality is that it is very real. Child kidnapping is increasing in South Africa, and the reason why will frighten you even more. More and more children are taken from their homes by heinous criminals for random, and worse still – trafficking. While it is not something that is easy to discuss, it’s vital to understand to ensure the safety and well-being of your own family. Below, we touch on the current situation in South Africa and go in-depth into measures you can take to ensure your child’s security.
The reality of kidnapping in South Africa
We’ve seen a rise in kidnapping as a whole recently, where organised crime syndicates kidnap important businessmen and women and hold them for ransom. In the cases where criminals have succeeded in their attack, they are highly trained groups armed with deadly weapons. There have, however, also been cases of inexperienced “copycat” criminals who have gotten away with the crime.
Why would criminals risk such a crime? Social activist focused on fighting crime, Yusuf Abramjee, states that “Out of three kidnapping cases – and I’m not going to mentions which three – I know the gangs have cashed in to the tune of R50 million.” The reward for criminals in South Africa is noticeably higher than the risk, making it an increasingly desirable act for gangs and syndicates. Kidnapping expert Martin Ewi states that South Africa is on it’s way to becoming Africa’s new kidnapping hotspot, where we are starting to see an average of 3 kidnappings per month.
Children held for ransom
Unfortunately, your reward becomes far higher and your risk even lower where children are concerned. This is because kidnapping an unsuspecting, trusting and unaware child is far easier to lure than an adult. The reward is also often greater, as families would be willing to do anything to get their child home safely. It is of utmost importance to ensure your child’s safety at all times because kidnapping is a traumatic and damaging occurrence to the entire family.
The issue of child trafficking
According to Missing Children South Africa, a child goes missing every five hours in South Africa, and the unfortunate truth is that most of these children are cases of child trafficking. Due to this growing epidemic, South Africa has had to amend it’s immigration laws. It has even been reported that many of the kidnapping cases involve members of the family or someone that the child knows.
How can you keep your children out of harm’s way?
Safety tips for parents:
- Never leave your child alone in public areas
- At social functions and public places like schools, places of worship or anywhere else, write your cell number on the inside of the child’s’ forearm
- Teach your child your contact numbers in case they need to get a hold of you
- Keep your child’s ID documents/ birth certificates in a safe place, preferably locked away where only you can access them easily
- Know where your child’s dental and medical records are
- Emphasise that your child never talks to strangers
- Don’t post pictures of your children on social media
- Disable “geo-tagging” on all kids devices
- Enhance privacy and security settings on children’s devices
- Know your children’s social passwords and monitor their activity
- Talk to your children about the dangers – they can accept and absorb these conversations far better than you may think.
- Have a serious conversation with your child’s school – discussing topics such as collection from school and how no other person may collect your child from school without verified contact from you.
Things to teach your children:
Your child should know a few simple things when it comes to strangers:
- They are never to walk or drive anywhere with strangers
- Adults never need the help of children, if an adult asks for help with something, the child should speak to you, the parent, immediately
- Kids should be loud and vocal when a stranger approaches them, yelling “stranger” or something to that effect
- If someone grabs a child, they should be taught to kick and scream and violently attack the vulnerable areas of the attacker’s body such as eyes, nose, throat and groin. The child must alert others around them.
What can you do if an incident does occur?
If your child has gone missing, there is no waiting period before you call the police. It is a common misconception that there is a 24 hour waiting period, however, this is not the case. Call the police or go to a police station immediately and report the situation. Email Missing Children at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to 0860-580-3310. Have the following information:
- Your child’s name.
- Your child’s age.
- The circumstances under which your child disappeared.
- The details of your SAPS-55(a) form, such as the name of the police officer who provided you with a case number.
- A recent photo of your child.
If you don’t want to leave the safety of your children to chance, we provide comprehensive protection services that cater to your needs. If you would like more information, contact Arcangel Protection Services now.