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What to do when a child goes missing?

No incidents of missing children have been reported at Cloetesville Police Station, according to the station’s spokesperson Sargent Zenobia Sedeman.

This follows much speculation on social media of a child or children that have gone missing either in the Cloetesville or Idas Valley.

“We therefore urge the community to report such people, as it is of the utmost importance to find the people as soon as possible.”

Sedeman gives the following guidelines for reporting a child or person as missing:

She says all police officials are taught anything being reported to them must have the elements of one or other crime to open a case docket or enquiry.

There are, however, three instances where the official can immediately recognise a crime has been committed:

* The person reporting the crime received a ransom demand or was contacted by someone saying he or she has their loved one and insists certain demands are adhered to before he or she releases this person.

* An eye witness that can make a statement that the missing person was seen being removed by force, or any other means, by a person unknown to the reporter or under suspicious circumstances.

* The reporter proves he or she is the legal custodian of the child, and the child was taken without his or her consent by the other biological or common-law parent who does not have legal custodian rights over the child.

The initial investigation must be conducted by the police to establish if the person is missing.

* If the person went missing from home check with all other persons in the house or residence and also check with neighbours.

* If the person went missing and a vehicle was involved or the person went missing with his or her vehicle the following must be kept in mind and utilized for the search:

* Where a vehicle is involved and the vehicle details are known, the vehicle can be located by the police.

* All attempts must be made to establish whether the vehicle is fitted with a tracking device such as a tracker.

* If the vehicle is recovered but the missing person not found the vehicle must be photographed and forensically examined.

* The use of tracing and locating cellphones used by the missing person and or the perpetrator must also be kept in mind.

* All information will then be verified and the merits of the case will be determined.

If it is evident from the information received that a crime has been committed, a docket must be opened and the detective on duty or on standby must start the investigation immediately.

If a search party must be established the following role-players must be activated:

* Councillor, volunteers, victim support volunteers, neighbourhood watch, disaster management, search and rescue dogs, air search and rescue, and any other players identified by the search committee.

* The station commander who is the search party chairperson, with the assistance of the detective commander must co-ordinate all the activities of the security forces and community structures involved.

* Taskings must be done only by the Station Commander.

* The communications official at a station must liaise with provincial standby communications, distribute pamphlets and inform the family of the missing person daily on the progress of the search or the investigation.

* For any more, contact Station Commander Lt Col Letitia Hans (082 411 2911) or Sgt Zenobia Sedeman (092 411 2915) at Cloetesville Saps.

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