CYCLE OF VIOLENCE: A gang member with prison tattoos at the police station in Manenberg, Cape Town. Picture: AP
Cape Town - Human rights advocacy group Sonke Gender Justice is of the opinion that locking up perpetrators of violence is not the answer to addressing abuse.

The group's co-director, Dean Peacock, said more focus should be placed on preventing people from becoming perpetrators.

“Prison is not the solution to this huge problem we have. Because people are not rehabilitated when they come from prison. They become worse due to the trauma they experienced in prison. It also does not deter people from committing a crime again. Taking the person from the community helps to a certain extent, but it is not the answer,” he said.

Peacock said children being exposed to violence at home were more likely to become perpetrators.

“This includes children who were sexually abused and saw their fathers beat up their mothers. It is very important they receive counselling after going through these traumatic experiences. In an area such as Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain, you have one social worker for 50 schools. This is not enough. So the accessibility to counselling services is vital.

"The problem is when these children do not receive counselling at a young age, they will become perpetrators. And this is how inter-generational violence starts in communities. In other words the cycle of violence continues,” he said.

Peacock said alcohol abuse also played a huge role in fuelling home violence.

“South Africa is saturated with alcohol. And in poor communities it is also easily accessible. Minimum sentencing for perpetrators is not the answer. What we need in this country is a national plan that focuses on this matter,” he said.

The organisation has a Children’s Rights and Positive Parenting Programme. It is aimed at ending violence against children. They also have a Men Care programme during which they engage fathers. They are advocating for all fathers' involvement in family life and for greater involvement in non-violent parenting.

The director of Where Rainbows Meet, Mymoena Scholtz, said they were against light sentences for perpetrators.

“What adult rapes and kills a child? The problem is, they show no remorse for these crimes. This is totally sick behaviour. We as mothers feel the pain when another child is raped and murdered.

"These perpetrators must not get light sentences, because when the come out of jail they commit the same crimes. Our South African justice system must really look into this,” Scholtz said.

Cape Argus