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Amber Alert South Africa: Join the SAPS and Facebook in the war against missing children

by | Jan 30, 2020 | Just Motherhood, Parenting | 3 comments

Last year September, South Africans united declaring war against crimes committed towards the women and children of our country. We stood up and marched for the women and children lost at the hands of monsters. Enough is enough was heard all around the world. We made our voices heard BUT was anyone listening?

That question has been on my mind for a while… Today I got an answer! YES, someone was listening. Facebook and the South African Police Service (SAPS) are joining hands as they launch Amber Alerts South Africa. A New Tool To Help Find Missing Children.

What is an Amber Alert?

Amber Alert is not a page or group or App. You DO NOT need to subscribe, follow or like anything.

The first of its kind in Africa. The Amber Alert system will enable the SAPS to seek assistance from the public when it’s suspected that a child has been abducted and their life and welfare is in danger.

It will do this by sending a notification post, an Amber Alert, through Facebook’s Newsfeed, to all persons within a 160km search radius. This search radius is very important and could be where the child was last seen or where the child is believed to be. The Amber Alert enables users to instantly share important information provided by the authorities about the missing child and/or suspected abductor, such as a photo, hair colour, and clothing. Users can then share the Amber Alert with their friends, family and Facebook groups.

Amber Alerts Combined Logo Image Final

“Today we are implementing a strong partnership which will assist with SAPS in improving our response time, to enable us to find and safely recover vulnerable missing, abducted or kidnapped children through one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, Facebook.”

National Commissioner of the South African Police, General Khehla Sitole

When is an Amber Alert issued?

The decision to declare an Amber Alert is made by the SAPS when investigating a suspected abduction case. Once the SAPS has been notified about an abducted child, they must first determine if the case meets their Amber Alert criteria, which includes:

  • The child is 17 years old or younger;
  • There is a reasonable belief that the child has been abducted.
  • The SAPS believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and suspected abduction for law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert to assist in recovering the child.

A senior member of the SAPS will assess whether these criteria have been met. The police will then notify Facebook’s Global Security Operations Centre, which operates 24/7, that a verified Amber Alert is active. Facebook will then quickly send the alert to the Newsfeeds of people located in targeted search areas in South Africa.

Amber Alert Example

Why is an Amber Alert important?

On average 200 children go missing in South Africa, EVERY MONTH. Only half of these children are recovered. The first 72 hours are critical. The SAPS and the Bureau for Missing Persons rely on community participation when it comes to finding a missing person. They need the public to be on alert and to share any possible information seen.

That’s why getting the right information to identify suspects or missing children to the public is crucial. With Facebook’s reach and ability to give a larger, targeted group of people access to this information, it can be all that’s needed to bring that little one home to his / her family.

We all see posts about missing persons circulate on our feed. A lot of these posts are old or not relevant to the area in which a child has gone missing. Amber Alerts will ensure that these posts are shown the “right people” as soon as possible, in the hopes of a quick and successful outcome for all.

It’s about using technology to strengthen law enforcement. Yielding social media to better the way we communicate, support and come together as an online and offline community. This can have a direct impact on saving lives.

How can YOU make a difference?

  • If a child goes missing report it immediately! There is NO WAITING PERIOD for a missing child. (A child is seen as anyone under the age of 18years).
  • Always have an up to date photo of your child ready and handy – I’m sure most of our phone are FULL of these.
  • Try and remember as much detail regarding your child such as clothes they were wearing, physical traits, things they may have had with them, etc.
  • When you see an Amber Alert, please do not ignore it. It wasn’t passed along by mistake. You are in the 160km radius that the child was last seen. Be proactive and share the alert with any people you know may also be able to help.
  • Be alert and report what you find to your local authorities. No person holding information on a missing child will be sent away.

It may seem small and insignificant BUT place yourself in the shoes of that child’s parents… If your child was missing, you wouldn’t want any stone (no matter how small) to be left unturned.

* Please note: Amber Alerts are not affected by the algorithm. They will be posted the moment they are authorised. Privacy and location settings enabled by users may affect the visibility of an Amber Alert to certain users.

Amber Alerts South Africa Facebook And Saps Partnership

“The goal of Facebook’s Amber Alerts programme is to instantly galvanize the entire community in the search and recovery of a missing child. Using Facebook enhances the current distribution system by providing all of this information in one place. Giving people the ability to share it, wherever they are.”

Emilar Gandhi, Facebook Head of Public Policy, SADC region

Amber Alert South Africa is officially active from the 30th of January 2020.

Amber Alert Logo

It does take a village to raise a child, but we also need that village to protect our children.




Images, graphics and information provided by Facebook Africa.

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  1. Fatima

    I love this idea. Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Verna

    Lets see how this is working!

    • Mari-Louise

      It is dependant on the system BUT definitely a step in the right direction and worth supporting.


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