/ 16 December 2007

Missing Children website to shut down in December

South Africa’s Missing Children website is to close during December due to a lack of funding, the organisation said on Saturday.

”December is the busiest time of the year for runaways. There are the normal cases of naughty children running away during the holidays, but given the pressure on matric students waiting for results, we find an influx of kids running away,” said Pieter Boshoff, the organisation’s founder and director.

Missing Children is based in Cape Town and was founded when Sheldean Human went missing. Human was abducted from her home in Pretoria in February and her body was found the following month.

Human’s death highlighted the need for a website and SMS system to assist families and the police in searching for missing children, said Boshoff.

The website is funded by Boshoff and costs an estimated R15 000 per month. This includes the cost of hiring private investigators to assist police as well as running an SMS system that alerts journalists and other organisations.

”At this point, we cannot run during December. We had a big case at the beginning of the month and had to pay for air flights for the investigator. At the moment all I can do is refer parents who contact us to members of the SAPS who can assist them,” said Boshoff.

Despite the organisation running out of money, Boshoff has started using his credit card to finance the search for two missing children he is particularly concerned about.

The government does not fund private NGO’s and Boshoff expressed frustration at the lack of urgency from the Department of Safety and Security when it came to the plight of missing children.

”It can be very straining, but we are making a difference,” he said.

Boshoff was later due at a Christmas party for 150 families who had been reunited with their children — thanks to Missing Children. – Sapa