City beach programme reunites hundreds of lost children with their families

More than 90 000 children were tagged at 16 beaches since the launch of the City’s Identikidz programme in mid-December. File picture.

Hundreds of children have been reunited with their families thanks to a City programme that encourages them to wear identifying wristbands on busy beaches during the festive season.

From Thursday December 15 to Monday January 2, the Identikidz programme tagged more than 90 000 children and reunited 369 of them with their families with 65% of the reunions happening over the new year long weekend, according to the City.

The programme runs until Sunday January 22.

Thirteen children were handed over to the provincial Department of Social Development when their families could still not be found. The department reported that it responded to more than 240 cases of children separated from their families during new year celebrations.

“Feedback from our project coordinators was that most of the children who were separated from their families this past weekend were not tagged, which made it even more difficult to find their caregivers. We’ve also had some issues at some beaches where parents refused to participate in the project,” said mayoral committee member for community services and health, Patricia Van der Ross.

“I cannot understand it – we are providing a service that offers peace of mind, especially on our busy beach days. We want to thank those families who have made use of the service, as well as the staff who have worked throughout the peak festive season and who will still be on duty for the next few weekends.”

No drownings were recorded on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, the public holiday on Tuesday December 27 or on New Year’s Day and the 13 drownings recorded by the recreation and parks department since September 2022 – with six in December and one on Monday January 2 – had happened outside of designated bathing areas, or when lifeguards were not on duty, said the City.