On Sunday, February 23 a police officer found a three-year-old child unattended and asleep in a car, as her guardian participated in a road running race. A case of child neglect or child endangerment has been opened for investigation by the Cape Town Family Violence and Sexual Offences Unit.

According to a Facebook post in the #ShutSADown group, the little girl was alone in the vehicle with no food or water. A law enforcement official saw this and stayed with the child until her guardian returned from the Slave Route Challenge.

Nadine Heugh, who is the author of the post in this group claims to be a friend of the officer and says that the guardian was arrested. However, Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana, SAPS Western Cape media liaison, told Cape Town Etc that no arrest has been made so far.

“The circumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation,” she said.

Wayne Dyason, a law enforcement spokesperson, told EWN the officer took both the guardian and the child to the South African Police Service (SAPS) immediately as she returned from the race.

“Concerned about the heat, he managed to gain access through a slightly ajar rear window. After about an hour, a lady returned and identified herself as the child’s caregiver. The officer took the child and the caregiver to the SAPS and opened a case of children endangerment, ” they said.

Leaving a child alone in a car is extremely dangerous. It is common for children to be left in cars under the misconception that nothing bad can happen.

Heatstroke is the biggest danger, which can cause damage to the brain and vital organs. The temperature inside a car increases rapidly. In 10 minutes, the temperature inside of a car can increase by 20 degrees. In an hour, it can increase by 40 degrees. The weather doesn’t need to be especially hot for this to happen. A child’s body warms between 3-5 times quicker than adults’ bodies do.

Other risks include kidnapping. The car could also accidentally be put in motion by the child if  the parking/ hand break is moved or dropped.

If you see a child alone in a car, alert SAPS immediately.

Picture: Facebook / Nadine Heugh – #ShutSADown

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