Nine-hundred and seventy-four people were reported missing during the first half of the year, with most cases involving individuals duped by scammers who promise them jobs on social media, police have confirmed.
Data obtained from police shows that 700 of those reported missing were later located after police involvement.
Last year, 1 031 cases of missing persons were filed with the police over the same period, before 829 of the cases were closed upon location of the individuals.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner, Paul Nyathi said in some cases, persons have gone missing after going to meet “suitors” they would have met on social media. Some of the cases, he said, involve minors who left home to escape abuse.
“For example, a boy and six girls went missing in Karoi in May this year after they were promised employment in Harare,” said Ass Comm Nyathi.
“It turned out that the juveniles were kidnapped and taken to Harare where they were subjected to sexual exploitation by a 28-year-old woman. Domestic disputes may also lead some people to go missing.”
Reports of missing persons have become ubiquitous on social media where flyers of victims are circulating on various platforms.
Said Ass Comm Nyathi: “The danger of social media is that the originators of the messages are not accountable to anyone.
“The public is encouraged not to rely on social media for credible information but should consult relevant authorities for confirmation.”
He said police investigations into a missing person begin as soon as a report is made at the police station.
After a report has been made, police search the area where the person was last seen, check addresses and places frequented by the missing person before checks are made at local hospitals.
In addition, border posts and other police stations are notified while images of the missing person are shared with radio and television broadcasters, the print media and through police social media accounts.
“The public is encouraged to register complaints to the officer in charge station, officer commanding police district or province and the National Complaint Desk whenever police is alleged to have performed their duty improperly after receiving a missing person report,” added Ass Comm Nyathi. – Sunday Mail