Saturday, 5 April 2014

Missing Children in South Africa

Whilst in the queue for tickets at the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria a small black child, aged about 3, joined us. We knew he didn't belong to the people in front of us and assumed he must be with the party of school children on our left. We were wrong, the woman in front of us tried to hand him over to the teacher who said 'he's not one of ours' concerned now that no one appeared to be looking for him, I handed him over to one of the Zoo staff who said it is common practice for parents to do one of two things.

He is either sent to the front of the queue to wander in without being checked and then parents will follow claiming they need to get in to find their child without paying the entry fee or he's just been abandoned for the day.

She then went on to tell me that most days they find children wandering around the zoo, alone, with no parent having reported them missing. They take these 'lost' children to the local police station on a daily basis.

According to statistics from the South African Missing Police Bureau, approximately 1460 children so missing every year, that's 1 child every 6 hours.

The reasons children are reported missing are as follows:

Getting lost                            36%
Runaways                              25%
Unknown                               21%
Kidnapping by strangers         9%
Found deceased                       3%
Parental abductions                 3%
Human Trafficking                  2%

These are figures for missing children that have been reported missing without a trace. Other statistics suggest up to 2000 children are murdered by family every year also.

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