TRAUMATIC MOMENT: Children place flowers at the site where the body of Courtney Pieters was found in a shallow grave in May last year. She was raped and murdered. Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, children and community
members from Eerste River visited the crime scene. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Although 31 children have suffered violent deaths in the Western Cape since last year, there will be no commission of inquiry into their deaths.

Research commissioned by Premier Helen Zille found there was no need for such an inquiry.

Valdi van Reenen-le Roux, executive director of the Trauma Centre, said the research into the deaths was undertaken by three universities. She said officials from the centre had recently listened to a presentation by the provincial department of social development before the provincial parliament’s petition committee.

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The finding that no inquiry was necessary comes after civil society groups asked that a commission of inquiry into child violence be held. “Based on research done by three universities, the provincial department of social development said a commission of inquiry into child safety was not necessary.

“But they did not give this research to us. Other points that were also raised were that a commission of inquiry can only be established after the opening of an office of a child commissioner. And such an office would cost R4.5 million, for which there is no budget,” said Van Reenen-le Roux.

“A commission of inquiry cannot be replaced by research. How do you replace research with the pain and suffering of children? During the meeting, a young girl spoke about an 11-year-old friend of hers who was raped at school. What happened was that the girl did not report the rape to the police. It seems as if rape has been normalised.

“The young girl also spoke about the fear and violence they experience at school. Our children are dying every day, and this is why we want to establish a people’s inquiry, but we require funding for it. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that children’s lives matter. Tomorrow, our delegation will make a presentation in parliament.”

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The Department of Social Development provided one report, by the University of the Western Cape, titled “Children’s Perceptions of Safety”. It finds there is a culture of violence in South Africa that is linked to issues such as poverty.

“Decades of institutionalised social oppression is experienced as an extreme form of violence. This experience of vertical violence then results in horizontal violence, where the perceived ‘weakest’ members of society are the targets of abuse and violence,” it says.

The report states that it needs to be considered how its findings can contribute towards to programmes and policy decisions to reduce violence against children. “Some children expressed the point that in their community there was no longer such a thing as being a child.”

The Premier’s office did not respond to enquiries.

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Cape Argus