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Cape Town - Children in Cape Town are having their fingerprints taken to help find them if they go missing.
It is an initiative between the police and missing children organisation, the Pink Ladies.
In terms of the certification process, children will be fingerprinted and have their vital details logged on a database. It is hoped that the availability of this information will help police to co-ordinate search-and-recovery operations when a child is reported missing.
On Thursday, Pink Ladies’ Dessie Rechner and Brigadier Thandi Mvoto, Gugulethu’s station commander, briefed media on how the process would work.
The certification process will result in volunteers from the Pink Ladies tour schools in and around Cape Town.
So far schools in Athlone, Gugulethu, Manenberg, Nyanga and Philippi have been visited. A total number of 2 289 children have been certified.
“This operation is focused in areas where children have frequently been reported missing,” said Captain Elliot Sinyangana, communications officer for Gugulethu police.
“Sometimes we struggled to get an (up-to-date) photo of a missing child. So far the school principals and their teams have been co-operative and supportive towards this initiative. The process will be revised every second year. We will go back to the same schools and update the details and the photos.”
The information will be kept in the database but the actual certificate will be in kept in the possession of the child’s parents.
When a child is reported missing, parents will ideally be able to provide police with the certificate.
“Our organisation has always worked very closely with Saps and has established a solid working relationship with all role-players in the recovery, care and protection of our youth,” said Rechner.
“This initiative will further help to improve that process, and working relationship.”
The certification has received the green light and support of the province’s community policing board.
Hanif Loonat, the board’s chairman, said: “It’s important that Saps has this information. The fingerprinting is not only to help us identify bodies in the worst-case scenario. We will also be able to use fingerprints to identify children who are found wandering around in dangerous areas or late at night. I have seen young children walking around at two or three in the morning. This will help us to identify their parents and reunite them.”