Surf Emporium Celebrity Surf Day on Muizenberg beach yesterday in aid of Missing Children SA . Picture: Ross Jansen
YOUNG surfers gathered on Muizenberg beach yesterday for exclusive coaching from some of the country’s best-known celebrities.

The event, to raise awareness for missing children, was organised by the Surf Emporium and Missing Children SA with all the proceeds raised from the day going towards helping efforts to find missing children.

This was the second year in a row the event was held and it is now an annual event.

Those in attendance received an hour-long lesson from the likes of cricketers Faf du Plessis, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, as well as Olympic swimming gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh and comedian Nik Rabinowitz, before taking to the waves themselves.

“It’s a pretty fun day out and I got a little surf in myself.

“We’re here to try to generate some awareness for a cause and charity that’s not as well known as others,” said Van der Burgh.

He added that avid surfer and Proteas star, Dale Steyn, roped most of the celebrities into the event.

Participants received a wetsuit, rash vest and a surfboard to learn on as well as getting to interact with celebrity coaches. They were also assigned their own professional surfing coach for a more personal interaction.

William Davis, owner of the Surf Emporium, said that with the platform his shop has and with the links to the community they could think of no better way than giving back to a well-deserving charity.

“It’s our pleasure and we are humbled to hold a day like this because it’s a collective effort to raise awareness about Missing Children.

“I’m a parent of two myself, so this is a cause I easily empathise with.”

Thomas Dixon, Missing Children SA board member, said that the main objective was to raise awareness and much-needed funds.

“It would be impossible for us to get those guys here but to join with our partners and get kids here to take pictures with them really raises awareness.”

According to the Missing Persons Bureau, every five hours a child goes missing in the country. Missing Children SA recorded 181 children missing between April 2016 and May 2017. While the organisation found 145 of those children, for a success rate of over 80%, sadly 9% of the children were found dead. The Western Cape has been particularly successful with 49 children found out of 52 missing.

One of the key misconceptions Missing Children SA would like to dispel is that you should wait 24 hours before reporting a person missing.

“It’s a myth that you have to wait that long. The moment your child has gone missing, you should report it to the SAPS,” said Dixon.

He said that when parents approached the organisation, it would check with the SAPS to confirm a case had been opened. Once the police had confirmed it, Missing Children SA, would create flyers and put it on their social media accounts.

“That’s when the community really becomes inclusive and they print out the flyers and distribute them,” said Dixon.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. Missing Children SA are trying to raise awareness around human trafficking, which they believe is having a huge impact on the numbers of children who go missing.

According to Missing Children SA, the majority of cases reported to them are of children who have run away from home for generally unknown reasons. About 72% of cases reported are about children aged between 13 and 17 years old.

Dixon noted that many of the children grew up in abusive environments and it was always difficult to return these children to those households.

“We often have to return the child to an abusive home but it’s then that we get the social workers involved and they take it from there.”