With one child going missing every six hours in South Africa, a pilot project sampling pupils’ DNA aims to aid police investigations.
The project was launched at Bastion Primary School in Brackenfell yesterday, where scores of pupils queued to take part in the IDENT-A-KID initiative.
Brackenfell Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairman Leon Brynard said that through this initiative between the CPF and the Brackenfell police, they hoped to extend IDENT-A-KID to other schools in the area, and repeat it annually to accommodate new pupils.
With parents’ consent, CPF members took pupils’ fingerprints, saliva swabs and hair samples.
Samples taken were attached to a folder accompanied by an ID photograph of the pupil.
The folder also included a profile of pupils’ hair and eye colour, age and pupil number.
Brynard said the ID kits would be captured and stored on the school’s database.
The Kraaifontein area’s brigadier Memela Mosesalso attended.
He said Bloekombos, Wallacedene and Fisantekraal were “hot spot” areas where children were often found wandering and lost.
The scourge of alcohol abuse in the area was a major contributory factor.
“With this kit, if a child is found and can’t speak or doesn’t know where they stay, it could help identify the child,” Moses said.
Pointing to his tiny hair sample, Grade 1 pupil Latitha Sonjica, 6, said: “It’s about police, so if we are lost we can be found again.”
School social worker Elmari van Vuuren said the sampling would be extended over the next two days to give those pupils who had not returned their consent forms a chance to be put on the database.
Judy Olivier, national co-ordinator for Missing Children South Africa, said 115 children were reported missing in the Western Cape last year. Of these, 15 disappeared from schools. And already this year eight children had gone missing while at school.
Olivier said most cases involved children being abducted by parents, children who missed transport, or left school without their parents’ knowledge.
During the past two years, only two cases had been reported where children were abducted from school by strangers.
“Any initiative where parents capture their children’s data can only help,” Olivier said.