- Gauteng police officials have announced that the three Mamalodi West police officers who turned away a family trying to report their child missing will be served with suspension letters on Monday
- The family of 10 year old autistic child were reportedly told to come back after the child had been missing for 24 hours
- The child’s body was found floating in a nearby river three days later
While police await the results of a post mortem to provide answers to questions of what exactly happened to 10-year-old Katlego Joja, it has been announced that the three police officers who sent away his family when they tried to report him missing, will face suspension.
Briefly.co.za learned from reports on Sunday that police from the Mamalodi West police station will be served with letters of suspension on Monday morning.
The officers allegedly refused to help the family when they attempted to report the autistic 10-year-old missing.
Instead police reportedly sent the family away telling them to come back after 24 hours.
The police officer’s action in the case of the Joja family, might well have been aggravated by the commonly held belief that people cannot be reported missing until a certain amount of time has passed since they were last seen.
This fallacy is reinforced by popular culture themes in storytelling in the media, movies and television. However, it is not only incorrect, but contrary to the best advice from authorities.
According to the website, www.missingchildren.org.za, time is of the essence when someone goes missing. “Do not wait 24-hours!” advises the website which also provides helpful tips for parents. People wanting to report a missing person in fact need to complete a SAP55A form which can be found at any police station, as soon as possible once the person is know to be missing.
Three days after being sent away by police, Katlego’s family were given the news that the child’s body had been found floating in a river.
Gauteng officials have promised there will be a complete overhaul of the staffing at Mamelodi West Police Station in the wake of this incident.
"We believe the family and, from our investigation, we know that there are about three people who are involved who actually misled the family," says Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, Gauteng Community Safety MEC who added that the officers will be served with suspension notices on Monday.
Residents served by the station say it is staffed by unreliable officers, constantly failing in their duty to the community they are supposed to be protecting.
“Children go missing, and they are not safe. They are raped and murdered. We help in ensuring that our children are kept safe," says Thani Khoza, a Mamelodi resident explaining why residents tend to rather take matters into their own hands when it comes to their safety.
Another resident, Leonie Mjoli expressed how communication and follow-up after cases are reported was virtually non-existent. “You open a case, and they will SMS you the details of the investigating officer, but you never hear from them, and you even forget that you once opened a case. Eventually, when they call you, they will ask you for a lead,” said Mjoli.
The sentiments by residents are shared by the social justice group Not in My Name which has launched a hashtag campaign to monitor the levels of service at police stations.
Themba Masango of the #NotInMyName campaign stressed the need for proper training, and competence to be provided to staff at police stations. “That's why we are launching a campaign to monitor police stations nationwide,” said Masango.
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