Facebook and SAPS

Facebook South Africa & SAPS Launch Amber Alert

The biggest fear for a parent has is having their child go missing. Yet this is the harsh reality facing many South African families. Approximately 200 children are reported missing monthly and only half return home to their families. Yesterday, 30 January 2020 the SAPS & Facebook Launched Amber Alerts and I had the privilege of attending this auspicious press conference.

Missing children isn’t just a South African crisis. Children around the world go missing daily. The stats are shocking, the torment and anguish indescribable, and now it’s time to make a difference. As a mom of two I have a vested interest in this fantastic initiative. Keeping our children safe has to be priority.

Facebook South Africa

Facebook South African and the South African Police Services have joined forces to find missing children. Emily Vacher, Facebook’s Director of Trust and Safety, flew to South Africa to attend the launch of Amber Alert. This Facebook tool is already available across 23 countries globally with South Africa being the first African country to implement.

Emily varcher
Emily Vacher sharing the impact of Amber Alert

If a child goes missing every second counts. The faster we react the greater the chances of us getting a missing child home safely.

example of amber alert
Example of an Amber Alert that will appear on your news-feed.

AMBER ALERT is the first of its kind in Africa. The system will enable SAPS to seek assistance from the public. Through Facebook, the Alert enables people to share information about the suspected abduction.

SAPS Involvement

SAPS often get a bad wrap for poor service delivery. However they deserve credit for stepping up and taking on this initiative. The SAPS is committed and dedicated to finding missing children. The Facebook tool will only be as effective as the information received, the prompt response from the child’s parents and SAPS.

National Commissioner of the South African Police, General Khehla Sitole said: “Today we are implementing a strong partnership which will assist with SAPS in improving our response time, to enable us to find and safely recover vulnerable missing, abducted or kidnapped children through one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, Facebook.”

How Amber Alerts works?

Any Facebook user within a 160 km radius of where the child went missing will receive the AMBER ALERT

Amber Alert Criteria

  • The abduction is of a child age 17 or younger
  • There is a reasonable belief that the child has been abducted
  • The South African Police Service believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm.
  • Sufficient descriptive information about the victim and suspected abduction for SAPS to issue an Amber Alert to assist in recovering the child.

NOTE : There is no waiting period to report a child missing to the SAPS. The SAPS staff force have been given a directive not to turn parents away and to assist as a matter of urgency.

For more information on how to report a missing child click HERE

Emilar Gandhi, Facebook Head of Public Policy, SADC region added: “This is an important step forward in our continued investment and commitment not only to South Africa but across the African continent”.

Facebook is about building stronger communities. And this is what Amber Alert is all about. The main aim of Amber Alert is to get communities involvement in the search and recovery of a missing child. South Africa has 28 million Facebook users. The idea is to instantly get the entire community participating in the search and recovery of the child.

If you are a Facebook user and you receive a Facebook notification on your News-feed, I urge you not to ignore it. That alert means that you are in the 160 km zone and could potential save a child’s life. Please share this post far and wide. We need your help to spread the news that AMBER ALERT has arrived and is active. The Facebook tool can now be used in the event that a child goes missing by contacting your nearest SAPS. With your help, AMBER ALERT can and will make a difference. You could potentially save a child’s life.

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