Feisty five, Alaska, Adele, Skyler, Kenzo and Bailey are ready to start patrolling and searching for missing people with their new team at the Lentegeur Child Rapid Response Unit.
The five dogs – four German Shepherds and a Belgian Shepherd – are the latest edition to the unit, and were trained by the K-9 Academy.
They have received special training in trailing which enables them to help find a missing person, said dog trainer Bradley Brown of K-9 Academy.
Mr Brown said the dogs had also been trained to detect firearms, ammunition and narcotics.
Mr Brown has been training dogs since a young age and has supplied SAPS and security companies with trained K-9 dogs to detect missing persons, drugs, firearms and ammunition.
Lentegeur Community Police Forum chairperson, Byron De Villiers said in 2018 children were being reported missing almost weekly.
“Safety structures were not working together as they should. We stepped in and started the CRRU, helping those missing person cases to start working again and running as it should,” he said.
No one has this advantage yet, to have the assistance of K-9 dogs to find missing people, he said.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Mr De Villiers.
Co-ordinator of Lentegeur CRRU and deputy chairwoman of Lentegeur CPF, Kaamillah Ismail said parents should keep a close eye on their children.
“We should know who they associate with and also have good relations with our neighbours and those around us,” she said.
She recalled a case in which they had found a 15-year-old girl who was a serial runaway, and placed her in a safe house. “We go as far as following up and assisting families in partnership with organisations and the victim support unit,” she said.
The unit has also called on businesses and other organisations to help fund their services so that they can, for example, offer food and other essentials to the missing persons they find.
Founder and CEO of Western Cape Missing Persons Unit, Candice Van der Rheede, said she’s known and worked with Mr De Villiers and his team for years. “They are totally awesome and always professional, following protocol and so easy to work with,” she said.
“There are too many people doing their own thing as far as missing persons are concerned and don’t realise that some of their actions could be putting the lives of these missing people in danger,” she said.
“When a person goes missing and cannot be found, families should be advised to report their loved ones missing and allow SAPS to do their job. The more time passed the harder it is to find a missing person and too much outside interference could hamper the investigation,” she said.
Mr De Villiers said they have reached out to the government, and ward councillors to assist them, but had been told that funding was not available.
Member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, Ricardo Mackenzie, said Lentegeur CRRU has reached out to him and his office, and that he had met with them several times.
“They will definitely have all my support in finding missing persons. I am not in the executive and do not have executive budget spending but I consistently reach out to any organisations who assist our communities,” he said.
He has invited Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, to see their work and would continue to advocate for funding for their work, he said.
Constable Felicia Adams said residents should immediately report a person missing. If the person is found or returns home to their families, the family should let SAPS and all the organisations involved once the person has been found.
Lentegeur Child Rapid Response Unit is not the same as Mitchell’s Plain Child Rapid Response Unit.
CRRU reports to the Lentegeur SAPS Station Commander and the CPF, she said.
“SAPS has their own K-9 Unit,” she said.
“Mr Brown has been training dogs and has on occasions sold some of his dogs to SAPS. We had successfully used his dogs in searches previously,” said Constable Adams.
Residents can join the Lentegeur CRRU, they will be screened and interviewed before they join. For more information contact Ms Ismail on 074 505 4954 or email Lentegeur.email@example.com