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Durban - More than 400 KwaZulu-Natal school pupils have signed up for a project in which their fingerprints were taken and personal details recorded to make it easier for authorities to identify them should they go missing.
“The number of schoolchildren going missing in South Africa is high,” said Wendy Pascoe, the head co-ordinator of the Pink Ladies Missing Minors Organisation in KwaZulu-Natal.
Pascoe said the fingerprinting project was a joint initiative by the police and the organisation, which was started about two years ago in the Western Cape.
In KZN, the first batch of 420 pupils to come on board were fingerprinted yesterday at Forest View Primary School in Waterfall.
Among them was Grade 4 pupil, Ethan Moles, who had his fingerprints taken by a policewoman.
Volunteers from the Pink Ladies NGO assist with the search for missing children.
Pascoe hoped more schools, including those in rural areas, would become aware of the initiative and join.
“We have received positive feedback from all parents at this school (Forest View) as well as nine other schools. At the moment we have targeted schools in the Upper Highway region and we hope to put more effort into rural schools, where children going missing is more frequent,” she said, adding they would be at Dawn Ridge Primary in Chatsworth soon.
Waterfall resident and SA Community Crime Watch member, Steven King, assisted the police in getting the children fingerprinted. He said the project would improve children’s safety.
“Letters of consent have to be signed by parents and handed in to the school. The children then have their personal information recorded on a certificate with their picture and fingerprints. The certificate of personal particulars is then kept with the school with the child’s file,” King said.
“Parents can also request to keep the original certificate or a copy from the school.”
The school’s principal, Shayleen Shum, was delighted with the positive feedback from the parents and was glad her school was the first in KZN to get involved.
“The safety of the learners is of paramount importance to us and something that we hold close to our hearts. Keeping records of the learners in the event it be needed is a great initiative taken by the Pink Ladies organisation.”
“This is something that I would encourage all schools to participate in,” Shum said.