Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

IN THE past cou­ple of months we have seen the bru­tal rape and mur­der of 13-year old Rene Ro­man (Laven­der Hill) and 11-year old Stacha Arendz (Tafel­sig), the mur­der of 14-month old Lin­dokuhle Kota, the mur­der of 4-year old Iyapha Yamile, and re­cently the dis­cov­ery of 3-year old Court­ney Pi­eters’ body in a field near her home.

This week – May 28 to June 4 – has been national Child Protection Week. It calls on us to take a stand against all forms of child ne­glect, aban­don­ment, abuse, and mur­der. Child protection is ev­ery­one’s busi­ness, es­pe­cially in the con­text of an ex­tremely vi­o­lent so­ci­ety.

South Africa sees 51 mur­ders per day, a fig­ure more the pre­serve of a dys­func­tional state like Venezuela, than a func­tion­ing con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy.

Study find­ings re­leased last year by the Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil (MRC) through their own anal­y­sis of data, found a young child is killed in South Africa each day.

The study re­vealed the first six days of life are the pe­riod with the high­est risk for chil­dren un­der the age of 5 years. The data in­di­cated more than half (53.2%) of the chil­dren were killed within the first month of their lives, and nearly two thirds of the chil­dren (74.4%) were killed while they were in­fants.

If this is ap­plied to the whole pop­u­la­tion, it would es­sen­tially give South Africa a neo-nati­cide rate (mur­der within the first 28 days of life) of 19 per 100 000 live births, and an in­fan­ti­cide rate of 28 per 100 000 live births. By way of com­par­i­son, in the US, which is said to lead Western na­tions in child mur­der rates, the rate was re­ported to be 7.3 per 100 000 in 2013.

It is clear South Africa has a shock­ing rate of un­nat­u­ral death of chil­dren. The rea­sons cited by re­searchers are var­ied. How­ever the aban­don­ment of chil­dren was the big­gest cause, ac­count­ing for 84.9% of neo-nati­cides. This is of­ten over­looked as op­posed to more high-pro­file in­ci­dents such as those in­volv­ing ac­tive vi­o­lence in­flicted on chil­dren.

Child mur­ders are not the only con­cern. My de­part­ment keeps a record of re­ported cases of child abuse in the Western Cape. These in­clude; sex­ual abuse, phys­i­cal abuse, emo­tional abuse, child aban­don­ment, child ne­glect.

Last year, 4 519 cases were dealt with by the de­part­ment.

The state’s so­cial work in­fra­struc­ture and Chil­dren’s Courts en­sure each case is dealt with metic­u­lously in terms of the Chil­dren’s Act.

In many of the re­ported cases po­lice have made ar­rests, and sus­pects are cur­rently be­fore the courts. In many of these in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing the cases of child mur­der, the al­leged per­pe­tra­tors and sus­pects were men and women who were known, and pos­si­bly trusted, by the vic­tim. This is noth­ing short

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