The first thing you should do when a loved one goes missing is to report the incident to the South African Police Service (SAPS) immediately.
This is according to the SAPS Section Head of Crime Stop and the Bureau for Missing Persons, Brigadier Attie Lamprecht.
“A missing person can be reported at any police station,” said Brig Lamprecht.
He said even though no one will be turned away for reporting a crime at any police station, it is advisable to report the incident in the area where the missing person lives, in order to avoid delays.
Brig Lamprecht explained that despite popular belief, there is no waiting period to report a missing person. The sooner the case is reported, the better the chance of finding the missing person, he said.
“The chances of finding the person unharmed diminish as time passes,” he said.
The missing person’s report must contain as much information as possible, including:
- Eye and hair colour
- What they were wearing
- Where they were last seen
- Circumstances of the disappearance
- Latest photograph of the missing person.
When reporting a missing person, you must complete an official SAPS 55(A) form, which is available at police stations, said Brig Lamprecht. This form safeguards the police from hoax reports and gives the police permission to distribute a photograph and information of the missing person.
“If it is suspected that the life of a child or adult is in danger, the police can release all available information without permission since the State has a legal responsibility to prevent and investigate crime,” said Brig Lamprecht.
The police prefer that a parent, a close partner or a legal guardian reports a missing person.
When the missing person is under the age of 18, the case is handled by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit.
Currently, the police’s missing persons database contains over 34 000 names.
“The number of missing persons fluctuates daily as people are found and new cases are reported,” he said.
If you would like to file a missing person’s report, call:
The National Bureau for Missing Persons at 012 393 2002.
Crime Stop Call Centre at 08600 10111.