By Jane Sithole, MPL, Spokesperson on Women, and Children:
Eight year old Salima Nhlengethwa from Mbombela has been missing for more than 10 days and despite footage obtained by the police from which an adult man was identified approaching Salima, nothing has come of this and the SAPS has remained mum on the developments in this case.
With the availability of the footage of the crime, the SAPS must bring in National Crime Intelligence to assist in this case and they must use expert video analysis to identify the suspect.
Nhlengethwa was reportedly sent to a nearby shop located between Mbombela Stadium and the N4 and never returned home. His mother Mimita Nhlengethwa opened a missing person’s case the next day.
According to the South African Police Missing Persons Bureau one child goes missing every five hours in South Africa. What is concerning is the required time to wait before families can report a loved one missing, which means the police can only assist once that timeframe has lapsed. For many families this is the time where they find themselves helpless as during this period the SAPS are just hoping for the victims voluntary return.
In most cases, children are the victims therefore, immediate action by the SAPS is of utmost importance in order to fulfil their mandate to protect and safeguard the most vulnerable citizens of our society.
The DA has asked MEC for Social Development, Nomsa Mtsweni to engage the Provincial Commissioner Lt-Gen Mark Dumisa Magadlela, to ensure speedy investigations into this matter and to put a plan in place that will assist the turnaround time of missing children in Mpumalanga going forward. The family sits desperately waiting for answers. We need to know if our provincial government is capable of dealing with such cases or not.
All citizens want to live and raise their families in safe communities. Strong social structures such as families, in all their different manifestations, must be given an opportunity to flourish in our communities. Missing children, child abuse and various other forms of abuse against women and children should not be tolerated and must be dealt with swiftly.
We have a duty to do everything in our power to strengthen and support the building of durable social structures that promote cooperation in our communities. By so doing, we will eliminate various social ills.