THERE have been increased reports of missing children circulating on social media that has highlighted the simple truth that we all know about humanity – children should not trust strangers and in equal measure adults must be cautious of children’s security.
A recent report from Ndola has seen police launch a manhunt for a maid who has allegedly stolen her employer’s three children in Chifubu Township.
The children include an eight year old girl and a set of twins who are two months old.
It was later reported that the younger the two babies were located at a named orphanage along Kabwe road after they were dumped but the whereabouts of the eight year old remains unknown.
Copperbelt Deputy Police Commissioner, Bothwell Namusuwa said that investigations indicate that the eight- year-old child could have been dumped in Kapiri Mposhi where police is still conducting a search.
“The maid disappeared on Monday, after she informed the neighbours that she was taking the children for under five at the clinic but did not return home,” Mr Namuswa said.
He stated that a case of child stealing was reported by the mother of the children who found the children missing after knocking off from work.
“The information was reported by their mother, Chileya Manda that her two-month old twin (boys) as well as her eight-year-old daughter were stolen by her maid only known as Nakamba,” he said.
Mr Namusuwa further said Police has contacted the Director of the orphanage, who is a pastor, and confirmed that the twins are in his custody.
The woman in question whose identities, remain withheld is also suspected to have kidnapped three other children two years ago.
The heart break of discovering that your children are missing cannot match the level of condemnation that may be poured on the poor mother of those children.
At a time when women are increasingly pursuing a career while raising a family, such incidents have the potential to rob the nation of brilliant minds that could positively contribute to the development of the nation.
Many mothers have opted to return to the work place to provide their children with a comfortable life and the general belief is that all women have a motherly instinct and would be protective of children.
So, placing trust in a fellow worker is not farfetched. Unfortunately, this trust has been betrayed and not for the first time.
There have been several stories of house help abusing young children and in deed even child abduction but fortunately no serious harm has been done and the children have been returned to their families.
We must be alive to the fact that kidnapping is a crime such as any other and so is very often beyond the control of the victim.
There are elements in our society that thrive on evil. They come up with various devilish schemes to achieve their goals sometimes it is simply through sweet talk and on other occasions they resort to violence. The criminal mind is real.
As parents and guardians it is important to help our children understand the basic of personal security. Simple advice such as reporting strange people and behavior to a trusted adult, children knowing their names and the name of a parent and knowing not to entertain strangers can really help.
Of course, children must also know that the police service is there to help and not to hurt. In the event that a child is in a dangerous situation, they should have the confidence to talk to or seek out the police.
Members of the public should also play their part in being responsible citizens when it comes to issues of missing children.
It is especially, disheartening that just recently the Zambia Police Service spokesperson Esther Katongo warned the public against withholding information related to missing children.
“There are reports on social media that children are being kidnapped in Zambia. As police, we wish to state that we do not have any such reports of children being kidnapped and in instances where we receive a report of missing children, such are located by respective relatives.If at all there are people that have been missing their children, let them report to the police,” Ms Katongo said in a statement.
She stated that as it stands, police do not have reports of children being kidnapped while those that had been reported missing to respective police stations are usually found.
“In instances where such would be a true reflection of what is on the ground, the media would have had relatives of those missing persons flooding media houses requesting to have their missing relatives publicised which is not the case. Police also do not have such reports.
“These reports are only on social media. Before we treat what is being circulated as falsehood, we wish to call on those claiming to have their relatives missing to quickly report to police,” she said.
Police involvement in missing children cases is very important as the investigative wing can tap into various resources to uncover the truth and facilitate the return of children.
Just recently an 8-year-old boy went missing from his school, allegedly collected by an unknown woman.
He was reported to have been abducted around Lilayi area on his way from school and was found a day later with the mother in Kanyama compound. It is claimed that earlier in the day the said mother was even among those that were searching for the purported missing child.
At least this story has a positive ending but still social media seems to be the preferred mode of finding missing children.
Others have even take advantage of the popularity of social media to circulate a lie about a Black Mercedes Benz that has been seen in the community that is responsible for kidnapping children.
Apart from the fact that this is a completely fabricated story, it stands to put any owner of a Black Mercedes Benz at risk of a lynching if seen anywhere near a child.
As with any crime, the members of the public must remain vigilant and co-operate with police during investigations to ensure the safety of our communities.