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Important Information & FAQs -> Legal Tips -> How to report a missing person: A step-by-step guide
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Losing contact with a loved one can be a distressing and overwhelming experience. Scorpion’s step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of reporting a missing person in South Africa, outlining the necessary steps and providing tips to maximise the chances of a successful resolution.
Do not wait 24 hours to report a missing person, there is no waiting period. Report a missing person as soon as you become aware of their absence, especially in the case of a child or vulnerable individual. Timely reporting can make a big difference in search and rescue efforts.
Gather as much information as possible about the missing person before going to the police. This should include:
Go to your nearest police station and tell them you want to report a missing person. They will ask you for the above information and give you an SAPS 55(A) form to fill out. This form is important because it safeguards the SAPS from hoax reports and allows the SAPS to distribute the photograph and information of the missing person.
The police will enter the photo(s) into the National Bureau for Missing Persons database. This database is a Crime Stop project used by police across South Africa.
An investigating officer (also called a detective) will be assigned to the case. Make sure you get the name and contact details of the detective so you can communicate about the case, get updates and also get permission to include their details as part of any social media posts that may be published to help find the missing person. You should also inform the investigating officer of any information you remember as well as any new information you receive.
Social media is a powerful tool to get information out there quickly. Create posts with the missing person's photo, description, last known location, and contact details of the investigating officer or police station. Encourage friends, family, and the public to share the posts to reach a wider audience.
Post on Facebook groups for your area so that your local community is aware, and reach out to Facebook groups that deal with missing people like Missing People South Africa. You may also want to make direct contact with groups like Missing Children South Africa for help.
If you are a foreign national or undocumented person, know that you also have the right to report missing persons to the police and get help.
You may also be interested in:
3-step guide to reporting a break-in
Unlawful arrests: what you need to know
5 things officers may not do at a roadblock
*This is basic legal advice only and should not be relied on solely. Information is correct at the time of publication.
Date added: 1 August 2023
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