Police ill-equipped to deal with missing children with special needs
Premiere David Makhura has called for heads to roll at the Mamelodi Police Station after the family of Katlego 'Katli' Joja - an autistic 10-year-old girl - allege that they were turned away twice during their search to find her after she went missing two weeks ago.
The family added that the police simply did not act with the urgency that is required partly because they didn't think about what needs to be done in dealing with a case like this where autism is involved.
Community members eventually found Katli's lifeless body floating in the Moretele River on 6 May.
This case has put under the spotlight on whether our police and society in general are equipped to deal with children with special needs.
Speaking to Bongani Bingwa, the founder of Tshedza on Autism, Chulayo Mthembu, weighed in on the matter and said in her view she doesn't think police are trained.
I have a friend who is a police man and I asked him in their training, do they discuss autism and how to deal with either an adult who has autism or a child? And he answered me and said he has never even heard of it.Chulayo Mthembu, Founder of Tshedza on Autism
In our country children go missing everyday, what happens when a child who has got autism goes missing, how do you deal with it? And he said he doesn't know. And I was shocked.Chulayo Mthembu, Founder of Tshedza on Autism
She said in the case of Katlego she received a message from someone just saying please get the message out.
And I asked them what happened when you went to the police, they said they went to the police and they were told to wait for 24 hours. I asked them did you tell them that this child has got autism because they have to treat this case special, they can't treat it like any other case. Children with autism's communication is not like mine and yours so you have to acquire certain skills to treat this case and that wasn't done.Chulayo Mthembu, Founder of Tshedza on Autism
Also read: 'No waiting period to report missing person'
Leading up to her death, what has happened now, in my view I don't think that this would have happened had they acted differently and listened to the family when they were told that our child has autism. So you need to act quickly and they didn't do that.Chulayo Mthembu, Founder of Tshedza on Autism
Listen below to the full interview: