This past week, security WhatsApp groups and Facebook have been overwhelmed by warnings and photos and even videos of children being kidnapped. One post claimed over 50 children had been forced into a container truck in the North West and transported to Malawi where they would be forced into prostitution and child labour.
Following the spreading fear, the South African Police have seen it fit to issue a warning in a bid to cool fears. In a statement, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the South African Police Service has noted with great concern the recent spike in video clips on various social media platforms which in recent times have depicted cases of child kidnappings and abduction.
“The police have, since these postings started going viral, been trying to confirm if those depictions did or did not occur in any part of South Africa.
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.
Members of the community may call the police’s Crime Stop number, 08600 10111 and all information received will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.
“Some of these videos might even be re-enactments as they are conveniently taken in a way that neither the location nor any other can be ascertained. 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 utilized 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.
“An urgent appeal is made 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. 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. Discuss your concerns and let us together make informed decisions before posting on social media. Members of the community may call the police’s Crime Stop number, 08600 10111 and all information received will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.