Cape Town - Remain hopeful. That’s the advice a local organisation has given to parents of children who have gone missing in recent years.
Dessie Rechner of The Pink Ladies Organisation, which assists police in tracking missing children and adults, said children go missing throughout the year “in waves” with a large number going missing before school holidays.
“This is when you see a lot of runaways. Generally, you have children missing throughout the year but (a lot) disappear around exams and go running around.”
She said their organisation works closely with police and they currently have a 91 percent success rate.
Rechner said she never forgets her cases and has a look back at pictures of children that have not been found for years.
“Like Sasha and Kauther Bobbs, I put them up every time because you will never know if someone will come back with something,” Rechner said.
While many children wander off, others are involved in family abductions. “I like to think they are with good people. You must never give up; look what happened with Zephany (Nurse). If you haven’t identified your child’s body, you should never give up.”
Zephany was kidnapped from Groote Schuur Hospital on April 30, 1997, at just two days old and reunited with her biological parents 17 years later. Her kidnapper was this year sentenced to 10 years in jail for the crime.
Shaskia Michaels was last seen on September 5, 2013, at her home in Freedom Park, Mitchells Plain, and was 4 years old at the time of her disappearance. She was last seen wearing a pink polo neck and black pump slippers.
Not far away from Shaskia’s home 5-year-old Kauther Bobbs also vanished without a trace in Tafelsig in 2013.
Sasha-Lee November was 6 when she was last seen outside her home in Hanover Park.
Mitchells Plain CPF chairman Abie Isaacs said there is no specific period where children go missing and their Child Response Unit stays on alert.
“The idea is to multiply numbers to look for missing children. Specifically, this time of year we start focusing on missing children on beaches. We have picked up over the years a lot of children who go missing on the beaches because they are crowded. We also noted a reluctance from parents to take full responsibility.”
Isaacs said their unit had a 98 percent success rate in terms of reuniting children with their families and the 2 percent included Shaskia and another person that was found dead.
“Children usually go missing from malls and beaches where they wander off.”