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(Associated with the International Centre for Missing and
Exploited Children)

Help our children find their way back home And thus invest in Africa’s future


1.1. History

The South African Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (SACMEC) is being established in South Africa as a joint initiative of (a) the acclaimed National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) based in Virginia, USA and its international division, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) and (b) the National Bureau for Missing Persons (NBMP) of the South African Police Service (SAPS). The establishment of SACMEC follows extensive planning and discussions between the NCMEC/ICMEC, corporate partners and representatives from the South African government, police services and Social development services. Although the work of the SACMEC will initially be centered in southern Africa, the business plan presented here includes the development of capabilities for responding to humanitarian crises in other parts of the continent and for the gradual development of agencies similar to SACMEC across the continent of Africa.

1.2. Cause

The establishment of SACMEC comes in response to a growing incidence of children in Africa being abducted or enticed with various ridiculous job proposals to leave their respective countries, and then being exploited either sexually, as soldiers in militias or for slave labour. A recent UN report has highlighted the plight of African children, referring particularly to the problems of (a) the abduction of children for use in the sex industry and for drafting in armed militias, (b) the sexual exploitation of children in African communities.

In South Africa alone, around 800-900 children are reported missing to law enforcement agencies each year; however the actual figure is probably significantly higher given that many cases of lost children are not reported to the authorities but are dealt with by informal structures within communities. Similarly, the annual figure of 5,000 reported cases of rape and sexual assault of children is undoubtedly an underestimate; child protection services estimate that in South Africa 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys suffers sexual exploitation of one form or another. Over 2,000 children are murdered each year in South Africa.

The tracing of missing children should be given priority but the already limited police resources throughout Africa are hard pressed in dealing with other serious crimes. In addition missing children represent a specialized area of investigation demanding intensive training and sophisticated technology. Given these concerns, it has been recognized that law enforcement agencies cannot manage the problems of missing and exploited children on their own and that an independent agency specializing in the management of these issues is needed.

1.3. Mission: Help our Children find their way back home

The core mission of the SACMEC is expressed in its slogan, “Help our Children find their way back Home, and thus invest in Africa’s future”. SACMEC will be a strong, loud voice in the field of children’s rights, both in terms of interventions aimed at reducing the exploitation of children and in the tracing and recovery of missing children. The mission to ‘help the children find their way back home’ thus has a literal component and a broader symbolic dimension, referring to the fostering of a society in which children can feel safe and at home and thus can become contributing citizens of their respective countries in Africa.

1.4. Objectives

The key objectives of SACMEC are:

• To serve as an agency of excellence in the tracing and recovery of missing children. A recovery rate of 95% is aimed for and anticipated.
• To play a meaningful advocacy role in the protection of children’s rights on the continent.
• To assist other relevant agencies and organizations to improve capacity and service delivery in the protection of children.
• To significantly improve children’s awareness of safety issues and knowledge and understanding of their rights, including procedures to be followed when such rights are infringed.
• To raise public awareness around issues of missing and exploited children.
• To make a quality contribution to an international network of organizations dedicated to the protection of children.

1.5. Keys to Success

The following keys to success have been identified and form the basis of the four-year business plan detailed below: Expertise

Senior persons who are highly trained and experienced in the field will staff SACMEC. Staff members will have formal investigative backgrounds and a track record in utilizing technology in this field. Dedicated persons who will receive intensive in-house training will assist senior staff. SACMEC will also enjoy significant support and expertise from the NCMEC/ICMEC and will thus offer a professional and effective service. Technology

In the information age, technology has a critical role to play in the recovery of missing children and in protecting children who are vulnerable to exploitation. As explained below, SACMEC will be an IT-intensive unit that is able to apply state of the art resources in implementing its services. Proactive stance

While effective reactive services are essential for the tracing and recovery of missing children, these problems ultimately require proactive solutions. A key criterion for the success of SACMEC is thus the development and application of safety models intended to enhance awareness and understanding of problems and threats to children and to make children, families and communities more safety orientated. Stated simply, prevention is better than cure.

SACMEC will also strive to, contrary to the current status quo, take on the causes of exploitation of children, and not merely handle the symptoms. Market

There are numerous NGOs in South Africa that are involved in work with abused or neglected children. However none of these organizations offer expertise in the recovery of missing children, and as said before tends to handle the symptoms rather than the causes of these problems. Thus SACMEC will definitely fill a significant gap in the market and will be able to supplement and enhance existing services rather than being in competition with other services or organizations. Already there have been several requests from NGOs for partnerships with SACMEC. Local and International Support

The concept of SACMEC has received enthusiastic support from government and non-government sectors as well as from international organizations such as UNICEF. Formal protocols for cooperation are presently being established with the SA Police Services, the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Development.


2.1. Status

SACMEC is a non-profit, non-Government, organization and is registered in terms of Section 21 of the Company’s Act of South Africa. It is being established as a partnership with the National Bureau for Missing Persons of the South African Police Service, and will operate as an affiliate of the ICMEC.

2.2 Board of Trustees

SACMEC in order to comply with Section 21 of the Company’s Act of South African has a board of trustees that will monitor and coordinate all the expenditure of the organization. The board of trustees consists of an honorary auditor from KPMG and three others from Standard Bank Corporate, the National Bureau for Missing Persons and Baumann and Gilfillan (a law firm). All projects and expenditure at SACMEC will be scrutinized and approved by this board. The board will also oversee the proper utilization of any property, moving and unmoving of SACMEC. This board will also oversee any fundraising and marketing ventures.

2.3 Executive Board

An Executive Board comprising of a President, two directors and at least two members of the General Board, will be responsible for any decision making and operational planning, and will therefore be responsible for the day to day management and running of SACMEC.
The two directors will be (a) the director operations and investigation and (b) the director administration, distribution and development.

2.4 General Board

A general board of directors consisting of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Board, and seven members will quarterly meet and be responsible for the raising of funds, acquisition of resources, marketing and the general planning and expansion of SACMEC.

The seven members will be, as far as possible, be representatives and volunteers from corporate sponsors of SACMEC, in order to create a company where transparency is one of the most important issues. These appointments will also comply with the Equity Act of South Africa.

The Executive Committee should meet monthly and is tasked with managing the routine aspects of the services, projects and development of SACMEC. In instances where agreement cannot be reached by the Executive Committee or where decisions have an impact on the basic constitution or principles of SACMEC such matters will be referred to the General Board in the first instance, to the Board of Trustees in the second instance and in the third instance to the ICMEC for perusal and approval. Should agreement be reached on any of these levels of referral by unanimous decision, the service, project or development will be deemed approved without any further referrals.

2.5 Constitution

By virtue of its being an Section 21 company, SACMEC operates according to the constitutional parameters of the Republic of South Africa.

2.6 Financial Management

An annual budget for SACMEC will be prepared by the Executive Committee and submitted for approval by the Board of Trustees. Being incorporated in terms of Section 21 of the Company’s Act SACMEC is subject to all the duties imposed on a public company, for example to submit annual financial statements to the Registrar of Companies, etc. The Board of Trustees will fulfill these duties and will prepare financial statements that are audited both internally and externally.


3.2 Start up plan: January 2004 – August 2004

The eight-month start up phase encompasses the following tasks:

• The official launch of SACMEC (April 2004).
• Establishment and setting up of physical offices as acquired in Sunninghill Park.
• Installation and acquisition of IT and other equipment.
• Selection and appointment of investigative support personnel and voluntary staff. (August 2004).
• Establishment of national call center (August 2004).

3.3 Development Phase 1: August 2004 – July 2005

Phase One of the development of SACMEC encompasses the expansion of services at a national level in South Africa, with particular emphasis on the followin

• Establishment of SACMEC agencies nationally.
As indicated above, SACMEC will be located in Gauteng. In the other eight provinces partnerships will be developed with appropriate NGOs for example Rapcan, Edumed, Child Search, Concerned Parents of missing children, etc. who will serve as SACMEC agencies. Investigation of child abductions will continue to be coordinated from the central office in Johannesburg but the agencies will serve as points of contact for the public and law enforcement agencies. Sites for agencies and their development will also be determined in collaboration with the Department of Social Development.
• Child Safety project.
SACMEC will in October 2004 launch a child safety project encompassing the education of children and communities in aspects of child safety. This project will link with a program currently being run by the SAPS, and will be in total collaboration with the Department of Education. Primary schools will be targeted initially. Use will also be made of celebrity figures (e.g. MTN Gladiators, sports stars) and electronic media (e.g. interactive PC games, animation series) to convey specific ‘scripts’ about safety to children, educators, families and the public. Combined with this project a Proactive Children’s Database will be established by SACMEC, which will capture all the important data of children before they go missing in order to have such information readily available for distribution, should such a child have the misfortune to go missing.
• National Resource Centre.
A National Resource Centre for the collection and distribution of pertinent information regarding child protection and children’s rights will be started in May/June 2005.
• Training by SACMEC staff and of law enforcement agencies will continue throughout all of the development phases (see below).

3.4 Development Phase 2: July 2005 – July 2007

Phase Two of the development plan sees a continuation of the services of SACMEC as listed above, but with the added emphasis of development in other African countries. This will be done in partnership with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Education Fund). UNICEF has offices in all African countries and has indicated that those offices and UNICEF’s extensive NGO network throughout Africa can be used to expand SACMEC’s services in Africa. A provisional plan of action for this development is as follows:

• Namibia & Mozambique (September 2005)
• Swaziland & Lesotho (December 2005)
• Botswana & Zambia (February 2006)
• Zimbabwe (March 2006)
• Zaire & DRC (June 2006)
• Malawi, Tanzania, Angola (January 2007)
• Ethiopia & Rwanda (June 2007)

In addition to this plan of development, contact will also be established with NGO’s and law enforcement agencies in other countries on the African continent in order to establish similar organizations than SACMEC in the respective countries.

3.5 IT Infrastructure

The NCMEC is making available to SACMEC software to assist in the tracing and recovery of missing children and in the management of humanitarian disasters. It is envisaged that the development and application of IT solutions to problems of child abduction and exploitation in Africa will be a key focus of SACMEC and that this will in turn translate into the development of training modules for law enforcement agencies in Africa.
The IT hub of SACMEC will be housed at its head office, which will be situated either in Johannesburg. SACMEC regional offices will however have complete remote access to the network.

3.6 Research

The MTN Crime Prevention Center situated at Rhodes University in Grahamstown will initially be responsible for research into diverse aspects of child exploitation. The focus of this research will be on finding sustainable solutions to the causes of problems pertaining to exploitation of children in the African community structure.


` SACMEC plans to have at least three major fund-raising events each year to support its work. Various promotional firms are presently arranging these events, and for the period February 2005 – July 2006 the following annual events are planned:

• A 4X4 event.
• A family picnic day.
• A corporate ladies golf day.

It is anticipated that these, and other, annual events will raise at least 50% of the operating expenses of SACMEC.

The NCMEC/ICMEC is also actively assisting in raising funds for SACMEC and is presently approaching donor foundations and government agencies in the United States of America on behalf of SACMEC.

3.7. Marketing

The capacity of SACMEC to recover missing children and intervene in other cases where children’s rights are violated is partly dependent on public awareness of the role of SACMEC. An intensive marketing strategy will therefore be implemented to promote the cause and services of SACMEC. This will include:

• An interactive website where children and teenagers can obtain relevant information and assistance.
• Marketing SACMEC through a corporate video that will be shown at selected NuMetro cinemas and in shopping malls and post offices nationwide.
• Promoting SACMEC through articles in the media, including television.
• A program of visits by experts and professionals to schools and communities.
• Promoting SACMEC through displays at festivals, shows, etc.


The scope of SACMEC activities is broad and diverse, but undoubtedly its flagship projects and the standard by which it will be judged is the tracing and recovery of missing children and its support rendered to existing law enforcement structures. The partnership between ICMEC and the NBMP brings to SACMEC a wealth of experience and expertise in the field of investigations coupled with the application of state of the art technology. Cases will be dealt with according to the following operational guidelines:

• Cases of missing children will be reported to SACMEC immediately either through the national call center, through the Internet or through reports filed with the SAPS.
• Cases involving stranger abduction will be given the highest priority (cases of familial abduction generally hold fewer risks to the child’s life).
• Each case will be assigned a dedicated case manager. Case managers will report to the Director, Operations and Investigations.
• The case manager will liaise closely with relevant law enforcement agencies and will facilitate sharing of information and resources pertaining to the case. Case managers will have law enforcement background and a proven track record in investigation of cases of missing person’s, they will therefore also have their own powers of investigation.
• SACMEC support staff, who will report to the Director, Administration, Distribution and development, will ensure the rapid dissemination, and distribution of information on cases of missing children to the general public through newspapers, national television, etc. and will also assist in the process of repatriation, rehabilitation and follow-up counseling.
• Cases of cross-border abduction will be handled by SACMEC in cooperation with INTERPOL agencies in the respective countries.
• SACMEC support staff will disseminate information received at the National call center and see to it that all leads are followed up, either by case managers or law enforcement.
• In general SACMEC will be set up to operate on the proven model of the NCMEC.
• SACMEC support staff will strive to establish pro-active and rehabilitation projects concerning missing and exploited children.
• SACMEC support staff will initiate research projects on exploitation with the help of another partner in this venture The MTN center for Crime Prevention studies situated at Rhodes University.


Corporate partners that are already involved with SACMEC will supply most of the expenses of SACMEC for instance the distribution of information on missing children, the actual premises, and administration infrastructure etc. As the needs of SACMEC increases other appropriate corporate partners will be co-opted.

Although volunteers will contribute to about 50% of the staffing of SACMEC initially, some basic capital will be needed for salaries to accommodate full-time employees. It is envisaged that the initial cost to accommodate these employees will not exceed the amount of R500 000,00 (five hundred thousand rands) per annum for the first two years.

Another basic urgent need is the supply of transportation to case managers to attend to cases and render support to local law enforcement. For this purpose two Opel Omega 2.2 liter Sedan motor vehicles were received from USAID and will suffice for the interim.

A corporate partner will be sought for sponsorship pertaining to the running cost of these vehicles.

With talks to various corporate companies it is clear that once successes is proven by SACMEC their involvement will become greater and they will definitely support SACMEC in their much needed interventions in Africa.

Local businesses such as Dell Computers; Computer Associates, ERA, TELKOM, SAA, Gestetner, Micropal Africa, etc. will be approached, as the need arises for the sponsoring of equipment and setting up of infrastructure. They will receive acknowledgment through press releases and as sponsors in kind. (Some of these companies already supplied equipment to SACMEC.)


The basic emphasis for SACMEC will be to make the resources available to any parent who has the misfortune to report a child as missing, in order to re-unite them as soon as possible.

To make resources available to other countries on the African continent in order to have the same successes in the recovery of missing children.

To curb and prevent the exploitation of Africa’s children in order to establish a happy and crime free continent.

In short to “Help Africa’s children find their way back home”.