Man taking pics causes panic near Cape Town school amid abduction fears
As child abduction fears heighten, a group of Cape Town primary school pupils fled in panic on Friday, apparently to escape a motorist who had stopped to take photographs of them while they were on their way to school.
"None of the children were taken," Vanguard Primary School principal Howard February said.
He has been inundated with calls since a WhatsApp message was circulated, claiming that two children had been kidnapped.
February explained that four children had been walking towards the school on Friday morning when the motorist stopped and started taking photographs of them.
"They panicked," said February.
However, he said the children did exactly what he had repeatedly told them to do if they felt unsafe – they ran.
One boy ran straight to school and three other children ran to a nearby office and asked for help.
The scholar patrol supervisor on duty saw what happened and sprang into action to help, taking the registration number of the vehicle. Other parents helped to calm the distressed children.
The local police were also called in to assist.
The children's carers were contacted and allowed to take the children home to recover.
"It was pandemonium", said February, but he was relieved that everybody was safe.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut could not immediately confirm the incident.
Meanwhile, the South African Police Service has implored people not to spread unverified kidnapping or abduction claims on social media.
"We are appealing to social media users to act responsibly and verify information before posting or sharing, as such postings do nothing more than cause unnecessary panic and paranoia among our communities," said national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo.
"…while the recent social media postings remain unconfirmed, it is a reality that children do go missing. Therefore, parents and guardians are urged to exercise vigilance at all times."
He also urged people to verify claims with the police before circulating messages.