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South Africa: Child abuse is an ‘ongoing problem’, says DA, expert blames silence by witnesses

Democratic Alliance shadow education MEC Khume Ramulifho said the country was not winning the war against child abuse, calling it “an ongoing problem.”

While the country celebrates child protection this week, future generations are under attack.

On Monday, three suspects appeared before Kabokweni Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga in connection with the murder of an 18 year old who was allegedly assaulted by his aunt and three other family members.

He later died. Three siblings died on 26 May after allegedly being poisoned by their father that morning. Earlier last month, video footage of children allegedly being abused by teachers at a Pretoria school placed child abuse in the spotlight.

In another incident, a pupil from Thaba-Jabula Secondary School died after being stabbed, allegedly by another pupil.

In March, a Tsakane Secondary School pupil died after allegedly being assaulted at the school.

Democratic Alliance shadow education MEC Khume Ramulifho said the country was not winning the war against child abuse, calling it “an ongoing problem.”

The dropout rate amongst pupils before Grade 12 was a concern, he said.

An attorney at the Centre for Child Law, Lithalethemba Stwayi, said there was an issue with mandatory reporting of abuse, despite being provided for by Section 110 of the Children’s Act with a sanction of a fine or imprisonment for those who didn’t report alleged abuse of children.

“From teachers to pastors, nurses and psychologists, even neighbours and nannies can report the alleged abuse. Because usually they are the people who have access to the child outside of the family unit,” she said.

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said the government had noted the incidents.

“These include kidnapping, bullying… These acts against children are unacceptable,” he said.

Gungubele said National Child Protection Week came amid reports that the number of children born to teenage mothers had increased to 60% during lockdown.

“Teenage pregnancies also stemmed from gender-based violence [GBV] and sexual abuse.

“We all have a duty to care for the children in our society.”

He called on all South Africans to work with police, prosecutors and courts to ensure perpetrators of GBV and abuse be brought to book.

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