Cape Town – To date, 94 lost children have been reunited with their families over the festive season in the Cape Town metropole.
"Unfortunately, there have also been several incidents that are of grave concern, including two young girls who were left behind at the beach – their parents only realised that they were missing when they arrived home," councillor Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health said on Tuesday.
Identikidz staff ensured that the children were safely reunited with their family and notified the Western Cape Department of Social Development.
Badroodien added that his staff have also noticed far too many young children arriving at beaches without adult supervision.
"In a country where the exploitation and abuse of women and children is so prevalent, children being out and about on their own, or being left behind at the beach is simply not okay.
"As we head into the new year festivities and the traditional beach day for many of our residents and visitors, I call on our visitors to exercise extreme caution.
"Historically, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are the two biggest beach days in Cape Town. This year, Mother Nature stole the show on Boxing Day, so we expect many people to make up for the lost opportunity on New Year’s Day – in spite of the windy conditions forecast.
"The City’s Recreation and Parks Department will have lifeguards on duty throughout the day to look after the safety of bathers.
"As the beaches can get quite crowded, it makes it a challenge to manage, but the lifeguards, together with other relevant agencies like Law Enforcement and the NSRI, will be on standby to assist.
"We renew our appeal to the public to play their part, by:
* Swimming only in designated areas where lifeguards are on duty
* Looking out for rip currents
* Not drinking and swimming
* Supervising children at all times
"Our Identikidz project is being run at 16 beaches around the metropole and we urge parents to have their children tagged as soon as they arrive at the beach.
"The project has become an integral part of our festive season safety plan since its inception several years ago.
"Already, nearly 63 000 children have been tagged since the launch of the project in mid-December and we commend those caregivers who are using the system.
"The Identikidz project will be in effect until the final weekend of the school holidays. We appeal to caregivers to have children tagged, but we also remind children who may find themselves in distress to look out for the Identikidz staff members or lifeguards or uniformed enforcement staff who can assist them."