With the conclusion of the Identikidz programme for 2022–2023, statistics show that over 125,000 children were tagged over five weekends at 16 participating beaches – evidence that Identikidz is growing in stature year after year.
The Identikidz project was first introduced in 2016.
During the 2019–2020 holiday season, it tagged 138,603 children, reuniting 332 of them.
The statistics for the subsequent two festive seasons were affected by the national lockdown, but this past festive season saw a definite upswing in the project’s outputs, with a total of 126,669 children tagged and 403 reunited with their caregivers.
“Overall, child safety at our beaches was truly well managed this past festive season. Our Identikidz project tagged well over 120 000 children and reunited just more than 400 with their caregivers. And, in terms of water safety, we had no fatal drownings where the victims were children younger than 15,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia Van der Ross.
She continued, “I want to express my appreciation to the staff involved in the Identikidz project, but also the many departments who assist our Social Development and Early Childhood Development department in the execution thereof. The statistics illuminate not only how popular the project is but also its importance in ensuring the safety of our young beach visitors.”
Councillor Van der Ross thanked the members of the public who took advantage of the service and encouraged others to do the same in the future.
The graphs below indicate that Strand not only accounted for the highest number of children tagged overall but also the highest number of reunifications:
A total of 22 children were taken to the provincial Department of Social Development when their families could not be contacted by nightfall.
A number of these children had not been tagged as part of the project.
In such instances, the provisions of the Children’s Act are applicable.
When the children are returned to their parent’s care, the parents have to appear in court to provide reasons for the neglect and/or abandonment.
In addition, they have to attend a statutory parenting programme, and the circumstances at home are investigated, with recommendations made to the court.
“Given how busy our beaches can get over the peak festive season, children being separated from their families is a big risk, and that is the reason why we introduced the Identikidz project. What we cannot condone is when the beach day turns to night, and children – some of them very young – have to be turned over to social workers, because no one has come looking for them, or relatives are not answering their phones,” added Councillor Van der Ross.
Councillor Van der Ross concluded by saying that the City and its partners go above and beyond to protect children, but ultimately, it is the primary carers’ responsibility, and where they appear not to be living up to their responsibilities, the law must take its course.
Picture: City of Cape Town / Facebook