The whereabouts of 12-year-old Lunamandla Sithonga from Khayelitsha are still unknown, 41 days since her disappearance, and her family continues to appeal for any information that could lead to her safe return.
Her aunt, Ntomboxolo Sithonga, said a search by the Pink Ladies organisation, the police and others had not produced results.
Lunamandla was last seen by her mother, Anela Jack, on July 9, boarding her scholar transport in front of their Site B home in TR Section. The Grade 6 pupil never made it to Eastville Primary School in Mitchells Plain.
“Anyone who has her must please tell us because we need Lunamandla back, we really need her back, and we need her back alive. That’s what we want and always pray for,” Sithonga said.
Meanwhile, three-year-old Anothando Mhlobo from Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, is also still missing. He disappeared a week ago.
Anothando was last seen dressed in a navy blue, red and white jacket, and red and navy blue tracksuit pants, while he was outside his home playing with other children.
Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said the disappearance of Lunamandla was being investigated by the Mitchells Plain family violence, child protection and sexual offences investigation unit.
“Due to the sensitive nature of their investigation, the finer aspects of the case cannot be disclosed,” he said.
The disappearance of Anothando was also still under investigation.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said missing children was one of the “terrible situations in the country”, with, among provinces, the Western Cape recording the highest number of missing children.
SA Youth Council provincial secretary Zuko Mndayi said school safety programmes needed to be intensified to respond to the incidence of children going missing in the province.
Missing Children SA’s national co-ordinator Bianca van Aswegen said children going missing was a huge problem in South Africa.
Van Aswegen said parents and communities should be more vigilant and educate themselves and children on safety measures. Cases needed to reported as soon as possible so police and communities could at once begin looking for a missing child: “The first 24 to 48 hours are crucial when a child goes missing, so it needs to be reported immediately to the nearest police station and us as Missing Children SA.”