Nearly 500 fatal child abuse cases reported yearly in SA with deaths likely occurring in children younger than five getting killed by someone close to them. Saartjie Baartman Centre holding a silent protest against child abuse. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Nearly 500 fatal child abuse cases are reported yearly in South Africa with deaths most likely to occur in children under the age of five getting killed by someone close to them.

So said Professor Shanaaz Mathews, director of the Children’s Institute at UCT, after the launch of Child Protection Week.

A 2009 research by Mathews and others on the epidemiology of child homicides in South Africa revealed that South African child homicide was more than twice the global average.

The homicide rate for boys was 6.9 per 100 000 males under 18, and nearly double the homicide rate for girls, which was 3.9 per 100 000 females under 18.

“Young children are at a greater risk of being killed as a result of child abuse than adolescents, who are most commonly killed during episodes of interpersonal violence,” said Mathews

Over the weekend, 11-year-old Ashwin Jones from Uitsig died after he was shot multiple times.

Premier Alan Winde welcomed the launch of Child Protection Week and attributed the scourge of child abuse to police being under-resourced. This year’s campaign will be observed under the theme, “Let us protect all children to move South Africa forward”.

“This week marks the start of youth month these occasions demand that we pay close attention to the well-being and safety of our young people and children, putting plans in place to ensure they are protected and able to thrive year round,” Winde said.

Referring to Ashwin Jones, an 11 year old who was murdered on Friday Winde said: “I can’t imagine the pain of having to bury your own child, and yet too many parents in this province have lost their children to senseless violence, which is exacerbated by the presence of gangs and drugs.”

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