CSO warns community to be vigilant about kidnapping
The CSO put out a security advisory this week telling of an increase in the number of reported incidents of children in our community who have been photographed by strangers in public spaces.
However, CSO Operations Director Jevon Greenblatt pointed out that the warning was intended to empower the community rather than cause distress and panic, saying that if adults are responsible and vigilant, the chances of it happening is drastically reduced. “It’s not about having a petrified community, it’s important to have a community that is aware and empowered,” Greenblatt said.
The CSO has also warned of an increase in the number of reports of what is suspected to be attempted abductions from shopping centres. Some of the areas in question include the zoo and parks, and a number of shopping malls, including Rosebank Mall, Eastgate shopping centre, and the Mall of Africa.
Greenblatt told the SA Jewish Report this week that the CSO was basing its information on the increase in the number of reports from members of the community of random strangers taking photographs of children in public spaces. “Out of the blue, a random stranger coming up to a child and attempting to take photographs, which can potentially be used by these people to put in a child trafficking catalogue,” he said.
There have also been reports from within the community of people insisting that someone has tried to separate them from their child in an attempted abduction in broad daylight at shopping malls.
“This is coming out of direct reports to the CSO control room from the general public, and members of the community,” he said. The CSO is also kept informed by South African Police Services intelligence and other security platforms, and reports in the media.
He said kidnappings and child trafficking incidents have been on the increase in South Africa. “Both girls and boys are vulnerable. This is a serious concern, and it is critical that the community is aware of this issue.”
It was imperative that should an incident take place, it must be reported as soon as possible. “People are so relieved when their own child is safe, that they forget their collective responsibility to alert the relevant authorities of the incident so as to avoid this happening again. It comes to us via hearsay, or from someone who heard it at the Shabbat table weeks later.”
In the event of an incident occurring, report the incident immediately to centre security, thereafter, report it to the police by calling 10111. Remember to get a reference number, and then report it to the CSO’s Control Room (available 24/7) on 0861 800 018, and provide all the details of the incident and the reference number from the police.
Greenblatt cautioned people about posting photographs of their children on social media without the appropriate security settings. “I’m always telling people to refrain from doing this. People are so open on Facebook, for example, they are literally telling strangers everything about their lives.”
This is extremely dangerous, as perpetrators can track everything you are doing, including your whereabouts,” he said.
The CSO urged the community to take heed of the following guidelines:
- Be aware of your children’s whereabouts at all times;
- Always be within eye sight of your children;
- Do not lose focus. You will be recognised as an easy target by predators/child traffickers/kidnappers if they identify your lack of vigilance;
- Take cognisance of what is going on around you at all times. It takes only a few seconds to abduct a child;
- You and your children have rights. It is your right not to allow anyone to take photos of your children, touch your children, or speak to them;
- Do not allow strangers to walk off with your children, regardless of what their story is. Predators have been known to lure children away from their parents to “show something” to the child;
- Teach your children to shout and scream if they are uncomfortable in any situation, even if their parents/guardians are right next to them;
- Discuss this issue with your children in an age-appropriate and non-alarmist way;
- Teach your children who is considered a “safe” person, and who is not.
- The CSO will be running awareness workshops for parents. The details will be on its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/CSOGauteng, or contact the CSO Office on 0860 276 email@example.com