'Current law definition of child abduction and kidnapping limited’
Cape Town - Close to 700 children were abducted in the past five years in the province. This was recently revealed by community safety MEC Albert Fritz, responding to written questions by DA chief whip Mireille Wenge.
According to Fritz, of the 3 482 people reportedly kidnapped in the Western Cape over the last five years, 696 were children, accounting for 20% of all kidnappings.
In the 2019/20 financial year, 20% of reported kidnapping cases were children; and in 2020/21 financial year, they accounted for 12% of cases.
Fritz said the department intended to prioritise the monitoring of child kidnappings due to the increasing prevalence.
He said the intention was to develop a tool in conjunction with the Western Cape Children’s Commissioner and the social development department to ensure that cases are monitored and tracked through the Court Watching Brief Unit.
Child Commissioner Christina Nomdo said the responsibility of parenting was difficult without support. She said parents needed communities to help them keep a watchful eye on children to keep them safe.
“Communities are an important part of the child care and protection system. Communities know what risks there are in the environment of the child. We must also seek help from government partners in child care and protection immediately. Social workers and the police are our first port of call in the government child protection system. Communities must work together guided by these professionals to find the child as soon as possible after they have disappeared,” she said.
Molo Songololo director Patric Solomons said they were concerned that the common law definition of child abduction and kidnapping did not reflect the full extent of children who go missing, or are taken, removed, left behind, held, given away or sold.
He said the reported cases of child abduction and kidnapping were the tip of the iceberg.
Solomon said the problem of missing children and children abducted and kidnapped was worse than reported numbers indicated.
He said there was a need to develop a comprehensive intervention and programme to address this.
“A full investigation into the operations of taxi drivers, gangs, clubs and groups of boys and men who prey on children on the Cape Flats and elsewhere is urgently needed.
“Improving reporting mechanisms for when a child goes missing, and the assessment, investigation and management of reported cases can go a long way to reduce the number of children who go missing, are taken and removed illegally, as well as the crime of child abduction and kidnapping,” he said.