Cape Town - The McCann family has contacted a South African volunteer organisation, Missing Children, to ask for their help, after hearing about the organisation's high success rate in finding missing children.
"Somebody they know told them we are very successful in finding missing children here in South Africa," Boshoff told News24 on Monday.
Missing Children has, since its inception in March 2007, worked closely with police and its volunteer network to help find missing children. "The success rate this year in the recovery of children is 83% in the Western Cape," said Boshoff.
Between January and August 185 children went missing and of those, 155 were found through collaborative efforts.
However, the organisation decided to decline the offer, feeling they would not be of much help. "We felt that we would have been unable to be of much assistance, as we know little of the area and even less of how the local people and tourists react, nor of police procedure overseas," said Boshoff, adding that being involved would have been a mere "PR exercise" on their part.
"I said if they have any proof that the child is in South Africa, we will take the case on immediately," said Boshoff. "Since the start of this case we have followed it and felt intensely for the family."
Boshoff attributes the country's success to the close work between police, organisations like his, and concerned people. "We work very closely with the police and others," said Boshoff. "I don't want to say it is our successes; it's everybody's successes."
The organisation has access to about 50 000 people via their networks. They have a website, a Facebook and Myspace profile, and a Facebook application that alerts members as soon as a child is reported missing.
The first 24 hours after a child goes missing are the most critical, according to Boshoff.
Madeleine, 4, disappeared five months ago after she was left with her brother and sister, two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, in a holiday apartment at a Portuguese resort.