Cape Town has seen a rapid increase in the number of children reported missing and later killed which creates great concern to child protection and advocacy group Molo Songololo.
Earlier this week the body of missing toddler Oderick Lucas was discovered in a drain by children trying to retrieve a ball. Oderick was reported missing late last week.
Molo Songololo director Patrick Soloman said not much is being done to reduce the number of children being murdered.
“We need to prioritise our response to reduce it,” he told VOC Breakfast Beat.
Solomon said it’s disturbing to see cases of this nature making headlines and politicians jumping at the opportunity to promote their political parties.
“A child gets killed and we read about it on every possible site. What is even more disturbing is how political parties use this for their own political agenda, with no successful interventions to reduce this from occurring,” he stressed.
Solomon stated that in most cases where children are murdered or go missing is in communities where substance abuse is rife.
“In households where parents use alcohol or drugs, where there are overcrowding and disfunction, negligence is a major issue and parents are not too focused on their children. They tend to overlook certain things and that’s where we need to intervene – be it as a close relative, a community member or someone close to the child,” he said.
“In areas where unemployment is a major challenge, those are the areas we essentially have to focus on and we need to find an effective way to help the child and the family members who struggle because children from poor backgrounds and dysfunctional families are likely to become victims of child abuse, kidnappings and even murder,” he stated.
Solomon said cases like this should be government and any political parties’ main priority, but it is also the right of the community to hold key role players responsible when things go wrong.
“We need a strong parenting program and we need to hold key role players accountable if they promised to intensify policing or any other form of protection facilities in area. As a community it is our responsibility to ensure our children are safe,” he stressed.
Solomon urged anyone who suspects a child might be mistreated, abused or in any kind of danger to intervene by either contacting their nearest police station or personally removing the child from their homes. He added that an abused or neglected child should rather be placed into the care of a trustworthy family member or neighbour until police or child protection services are able to come out to see to the matter.