The South African Police Service has raised concerns about the ongoing sharing of unconfirmed videos showing child kidnappings and abductions on social media.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said they have been trying to confirm if those depictions occurred in South Africa or not.
“To this day, there is no evidence that suggests firstly, that these incidents happened in South Africa and secondly, that these incidents are actually legitimate. By now, besides reporting this to the police, one would have expected at least a family would have come forward to publicly confirm at least one of those videos to be legitimate.
“Secondly, the police will never know that these incidents really happened if they are not officially reported. Therefore the only reasonable conclusion we can draw from this is that these videos are hoaxes.”
Naidoo said some of the videos might even be re-enactments as they were conveniently taken in a way that neither the location nor any other can be obtained.
“We are appealing to social media users to act responsibly and verify information before posting sharing, as such postings do nothing more than cause unnecessary panic and paranoia among our communities. Social media, when utilised responsibly, is an important communication platform that assists the police in combatting crime and arresting criminals.
“The South African Police Service assures the community that continuous awareness and educational talks on the safety of our children are done at various institutions including schools. While the recent social media postings remain unconfirmed, it is a reality that children do go missing. Therefore, parents and guardians are urged to exercise vigilance at all times.”
Naidoo appealed to people in instances where they suspect a crime may have been committed or anything suspicious has occurred to contact the police first to verify such information.
He said in cases where children are involved, the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) may be contacted as well as the sector manager of a particular area.