The first glorious day of 2015 meant just one thing in Cape Town, South Africa: the beach. About 200,000 people headed for the city’s golden strands, 1,100 police were deployed, and by day’s end around 500 children had been lost, some as young as 3.
About 70 of them hadn’t been collected by parents by the end of New Year’s Day, according to a Cape Town municipal official, although some reports put the number of unclaimed children as high as 100.
The children, most of them less than 7 years old, were ferried to the city’s police stations, where they had to spend the night. At one crowded city beach, 35 children were handed in, according to authorities.
South Africans reacted with shock on social media.
“I am battling to understand, how do you lose a child on a beach? And you still go home? It is sad," tweeted one Cape Town resident with the Twitter handle WaMputhi. “If I travelled with a child, I will not leave without him/her even if it means no sleep searching,” he added in another tweet.
“70 children? What kind of parenting is this?” tweeted another South African, Bobby Mbuya.
Cape Town authorities Friday broadcast calls for parents who had lost their children to contact police stations.