The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng on Sunday called on the South African Police Service (SAPS) to establish a specialised task team to work on cases of women and children reported missing.
“I am shocked to learn that out of 597 women reported missing between January and October 2017 only 151 were found. Where are the other 446 women?” DA Gauteng MPL Kate Lorimer said.
These figures were revealed in a written reply to questions in the Gauteng legislature by community safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, she said. They painted “an horrific picture of life for women in Gauteng”, she said.
The number of children reported missing for the past year – May 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018 – was 472. Of these reported cases 436 children were found alive, while four were found dead, and 32 had not yet been found.
“This indicates that the lives of women and children are in danger on a daily basis. There is a dire need to ensure the safety of these most vulnerable members of society. These figures also indicate that the SAPS is not doing enough to find the missing women.
“The SAPS should be putting together specialised task teams that ensure that investigations are effective and expedited and that cases are shepherded through the courts to ensure convictions. Too often, vital investigative steps are not followed and accessing information through court applications takes too long,” Lorimer said.
Areas identified as hot spots for missing women and children should be targeted for specialist interventions. In many cases people known to the family, or family members themselves, were implicated in missing persons cases. Furthermore, there was often a history of domestic violence.
Currently tracking of domestic violence cases and sexual assault was done via a manual register in police stations. An electronic system to track perpetrators and victims across police station boundaries was necessary and would assist in identifying likely suspects in the cases of missing women and children.
“It is the responsibility of the SAPS to ensure the safety of all our people as well as the implementation of effective crime prevention strategies. Our most vulnerable members of society have now lost confidence in the ability of the police to find missing persons. Our people deserve to be kept safe in their homes and public spaces,” Lorimer said.