Capetonians have been up in arms over a group of men who were spotted taking unsolicited pictures of children on Muizenberg Beach. Residents were shocked and concerned to hear about the incident and many felt hopeless about what they could do to protect their child.
“I just want to share my experience I had today on Muizenberg beach and hope parents are more vigilant because the world has become a scary place,” a post shared on the popular Fish Hoek Voice Facebook group reads. “So while we were sitting on beach, I notice this guy walking on the beach and seems like he is on a video call. Then he stops and takes a picture of a young girl while the mother is there, who doesn’t seem to be bothered, and carries on walking along the beach and then takes another picture of a little girl.”
Numerous reports of similar occurrences have been popping up on local Facebook groups and between residents in certain areas, as a worried parent here are a few things you can do to take control of a situation when it arises.
1. Address the person taking pictures
You don’t have to be rude or violent but it is within your rights as a parent to politely express your discomfort and ask photographers to stop taking pictures. In this situation you can also block the view of your child and show that you are watching them closely and playing attention to their safety.
Often, foreigners visiting a country think that it is okay to take pictures of children and may not be trying to do so for nefarious purposes, although this is a legitimate fear in today’s society.
In the instance that a person happens to be taking pictures without thinking, they will most likely apologise and delete the pictures.
2. What if a stranger refuses or runs away?
In the instance that this occurs, parents are encouraged to immediately contact nearby authorities. Try to remember the appearance of the person/s in question and explain the situation as best as you can to law enforcement officials.
Because this usually happens in a public setting, the assumption can’t be made that the person/s has broken the law in anyway but if you feel your privacy has been infringed upon, you are within your rights to report it. This includes calling the police.
3. Laying charges
Parents may lay crimen injuria charges against the stranger which address a case in which an individuals dignity or privacy is unlawfully or intentionally impaired. If a parent continues to lay charges against the stranger, evidence of the incident and witnesses will be needed.
4. It is okay to forcefully take the phone of a stranger?
In the situation where a parent feels a stranger is actively taking pictures of their child, many would be inclined to forcefully take the phone and check for themselves.
This action is outside of the law and the stranger has no obligation to show the parent in question anything on their personal cellphone.
Parents should be very careful not to harm the stranger or damage their personal belongings.