Reporting a missing child | Western Cape Government

Reporting a missing child

Miserable wet teddy bear on a swing in the rainHundreds of children go missing in South Africa every year. Missing Children South Africa’s statistics shows that 77% of missing children are found, but sadly 23% of these missing children are not.

Children are the most vulnerable members of our society. We must teach our children to protect themselves and to always be aware of their surroundings.

How can you protect your child?

According to Missing Children South Africa, parents can safeguard their kids in the following ways:

  • Always know where your child is, what they’re wearing, and who they’re with.
  • Know your child’s friends including names, addresses and telephone numbers.
  • Teach your children their names, address, your name and telephone number
  • Teach your child never to go anywhere alone.
  • Teach your child never to trust strangers. They should never go with anyone if not instructed by you and should never accept gifts from people they don’t know.
  • A family exclusive password is a good way to help your child in making decisions about getting into someone’s car. Your family should agree on a password. Your child should insist on the password if someone tells them that they are collecting them on your behalf. If they don’t know the password your child shouldn’t get in the car with them.
  • Know the technology, social media platforms and apps your child is using. Speak to them about the dangers of communicating with strangers online. Your children should be careful about the kind of information and images they post or share with strangers online. Talk to your children about catfishing (the act of creating a fake online personality to lure someone into a relationship). Teach your children not to give their address, school details or to meet someone who they’ve met online.

For more information read the Missing Children South Africa poster in English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa.

What to do if your child goes missing

  • Try not to panic.
  • Don't wait 24 hours to report your missing child.
  • Do a quick search to check whether your child is really missing. Contact their friends, school, neighbours, etc.
  • Get a responsible person to stay at your house while you’re at the police station or searching for your child. This person can take messages if someone calls about the child’s disappearance or if the child returns home.
  • Go to your nearest police station and take a recent photograph of the child with you. Make sure that the photograph is of good quality so that your child will be easily identifiable.
  • Give a good description of what the child was wearing, their last whereabouts and any information that may help the police.
  • You’ll have to complete a SAPS 55 (A) form which safeguards the police against false or hoax reports. This form also gives the Police permission to distribute the photo and information of the missing child.
  • Make sure the police give you a reference number and contact name and number of the SAPS officer(s) assigned to the investigation.
  • Remember that if your child returns home, you’ll have to go to the Police station to report that the child is safe.

You can help your child be more aware of their personal safety. Here is a handy list of 10 tips for your child from Missing Children South Africa in; 

Additional help:

The following organisations can assist you with the search for your missing child.

Bureau for Missing Persons

Head Office:

Tel:  012 393 2001/2/5/7/10/12
Fax to Email:  086 777 9420
Email: /

Western Cape:        

Tel:  021 467 8236
Fax:  021 467 8238

In cases of emergencies call 08600 10111

Missing Children South Africa

: 072 MISSING (072 647 7464)
Fax: 086 580 3310

South African Centre for Missing and Exploited Children

Tel: 012 393 2002
Fax: 086 777 9420

The Pink Ladies Organisation for Missing Children

24 Hour SMS : 072 214 7439 
Email: / 

Please note: the 24-hour number is to be used only in the following situations:

  • Reporting a missing child/adult.
  • Relaying information regarding a missing child/adult.

No other enquiries will be responded to on this number.

You can also report a missing adult or child by emailing them at

Use for all other non-urgent enquiries regarding membership, media involvement or volunteering etc.

Missing persons in South Africa

The South African Police Service has a list of missing persons.

The content on this page was last updated on 30 April 2020