Shocking Child Murder Figures in SA. 3/10/2017

Published by IOL

With the shocking news of of the murder of four-year-old Shaynis Talla, who was found dumped in a drain in Eldorado Park last week, Child Welfare South Africa (CWSA) says the killing of children can be prevented.

Lizle van den Berg of the association said “horrific numbers of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year".

The most gruesome relate to murder, abuse or neglect.

Almost 900 children were murdered in South Africa from 2015 to 2016, according to the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).

In 2016, the UN ranked South Africa among the world’s 10 most violent nations.

According to police figures, each year 800 to 900 children are murdered.

Since June, in the Western Cape alone, 22 young girls have been killed.

“The frustration is that our children are not safe in their community any more. This is very painful,” said the child welfare association.

The killings of children has caught the attention of the President, Jacob Zuma, who, in May, visited the home of 3-year-old Courtney Pieters.

Her death reportedly sent cold shivers down the backs of those who heard it, as she was raped and murdered by a family friend and a tenant.

Besides the gruesome murder of children by community members, some cases of cruelty are committed by carers, to whom the children are entrusted.

“Some women hide their pregnancies and dump their babies soon after birth.

“Other mothers simply abandon their children and are not worried about what happens to them,” said Van den Berg.

Other types of horrific murders of children have, from time to time, shocked the nation, sometimes leading to protests.

Yet, as soon as the initial shock from those individual incidents wears off, the problem will be largely pushed aside.

Many deaths of young children were preventable, said the association.

Young children are most likely to be killed by someone known and often close to them.

Although the killing of a child due to abuse is not the result of a single factor, there are often early warning signs families and parents should be alert to.

“As a society, we should be creating an enabling environment in which children are nurtured and cared for in safe and secure homes, and communities that promote children's well-being across all dimensions," Van den Berg said. “Yet, we are failing to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

“It is imperative that we all accept the responsibility of caring for children, as they are unable to speak up for themselves.

“Communities should be taking the responsibility to report cases when they suspect a family is in crisis or a child is in need of care and protection,” she added.

A culture of active, responsible citizenship is indispensable in building a functional society that cares for its most vulnerable members.

“Saving the lives of children is not only the responsibility of the police, social workers, or any other professional. We can all make a difference.

"It starts by changing the way we relate to children and by making their protection a priority," she said.

"We all need to make a conscious effort each day and ask ourselves: 'What can I do to save a child’s life today?'”

CWSA is the country's largest child protection NGO.

It is an umbrella body with a national office and nine provincial offices, and represents 164 child welfare organisations across all provinces.

CWSA is 94 years old and aims to lead in the achievement of a safe and caring environment for all children through advocacy, research, capacity-building and social mobilisation.