Nearly half of the remaining unclaimed children in Cape Town were reunited with their parents on Friday, after at least 500 got lost on Western Cape beaches on New Year’s Day, police told a local newspaper. “A total of 34 children were handed over to the SA Police Service in the province. Only one girl has yet to be reunited with her parents,” police spokesman Captain FC Van Wyk told the Citizen on Friday.
About 200,000 people basked in sunlight on Monwabisi, Strandfontein, Muizenberg and Strand beaches Jan. 1 in Cape Town, South Africa, with more than a thousand police officers on duty. By the end of the day, around 500 children had been separated from their parents. Most of the children were less than 7-years-old and some as young as 3-years-old. Police managed to reunite 430 children with their families Thursday, by driving along the crowded beaches and calling for their parents over a loudspeaker, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The remaining 70 children were taken to the city’s police stations, where they spent the night. A total of 37 children still remain in the possession of authorities Friday, the Citizen reported.
“Police will have to try to figure out where those parents are. In Strand alone we handed over 35 children to the police. This is a result of parents who are not paying attention to the whereabouts of their children,” a Cape Town official told South Africa’s Eyewitness News.
South Africans were appalled and shocked by the incident. “I am battling to understand, how do you lose a child on a beach? And you still go home? It is sad,” a Cape Town resident posted on Twitter, according to the LA Times. “If I travelled with a child, I will not leave without him/her even if it means no sleep searching.”
Authorities from Cape Town police stations and the city’s Disaster Risk Management Center couldn't be immediately reached Friday afternoon for comment.