The number of children murdered in Cape Town still stands at 1,000 every year, which means on average, three children get killed per day. That’s according to a senior researcher at UCT Children’s Institute, Lucy Jamieson, unpacking the shocking statistics of child murders in South Africa.
It comes in the wake of an intense search for eight-year-old Tazne Van Wyk, who disappeared in Elsies River over a week ago. While a suspect, 54 year old Moehydien Pangaker has been arrested, she has not been found.
According to Jamieson, the child murder rate takes into account a death that has been caused by another person, deliberately killed or where a child has been involved in an accident where it could have been foreseen or prevented.
“There has been statistics which shows that in 2009, the child homicide study was standing at 1019 children murdered and last year 1014 child murders as a national figure across the country,” said Jamieson.
“The patterns are similar year to year of children who have been murdered, are younger than 5 years old or older such as male adolescents from 15-17 years old.
Abductions can be incredibly traumatic for families and communities at large. They do have a big impact, but they are not as common as children who are being killed at home by their parents or children in the Western Cape being caught up in a crossfire or gang violence,” said Jamieson.
Jamieson said that the cases of abduction gives the family hope to still find the child and it creates a window of opportunity. With abductions, people don’t know whether the child is alive or not so that creates a huge worry, whereas with children who are murdered the bodies are always found and seen at the mortuary. With abductions, the police are involved as well as other organisations who help search for the missing child. There are rewards being given for information about the whereabouts of the missing child.
She said that the media plays a critical role in getting the news out of missing children or news regarding murders. Media also plays a huge role in creating awareness of what is happening in the communities and being apart of the search for the children.
“Children need to be supervised. The days of children walking alone to the tuckshops is long gone. The threat is children getting caught up in community violence. The resolution is to keep track of where your children are, observe and monitor them. While being accompanied by an adult or older child try to get them to develop a sense of independence whilst outdoors,” said Jamieson.
There are different initiatives that help to ensure the safety of children, walking children to buses and people who set up creches. As children become more and more independent, parents need to give them space but also keep the layers of protection.
“Parents have said that they need police to monitor routes to ensure the safety of children when they on their way to school and back home. Police and social services need to work together to ensure the safety of children. The children have agreed to use the routes where the police monitor. Police need to share information so that everyone can play a part in helping with the safety of children. We are not connecting the information between police and social services. The government does not have a proper computer system. A computer system needs to be implemented in order to map out where the hotspots are where children are being taken and murdered. We can make the community safer if we all work together,” said Jamieson.
“The number one thing to all parents and children…we have to realise that the community can be dangerous. We need to know where our children are in order to help them be safe. The biggest threat is everyday community violence, so build enough skills to avoid conflict and be very vigilant. This way we are making the community safer for children and the community at large,” said Jamieson.