Saartjie Baartman Centre staffers hold a silent protest outside their premises in Athlone to stand against child abuse. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
In the space of a weekend, 14 young people were murdered on the Cape Flats. A 17-year-old learner was stabbed to death, allegedly by 15-year-old outside the Castle of Good Hope in central Cape Town.

Three others were arrested for possession of dangerous weapons. What is going on? Are we really talking about our youth here? Tomorrow’s leaders?

And the hate they have towards one another is so bad that they are prepared to kill. Reflecting on my own youth, we never had such intentions.

Sure, a fist fight here and there, but never such brutality.

We have children as young as 18 months being raped, abused and killed by people who they know and people who should be protecting them. And it is not getting any better.

This is not the new South Africa that we anticipated. Today most of us are living in fear.

We hardly go out at night and we triple-check our doors before we go to bed. We are ultra-suspicious when it comes to strangers. We have lost our child-like playfulness when in public. Even a leisurely walk in a forest could be our last walk.

The sheer brutality of attacks is something I struggle to comprehend. The picture of Jeremiah Ruiters, the 18-month-old baby boy who was tortured for weeks before he died, will be with me forever.

How can we forget little Stacey Adams? The 2016/17 Annual Crime Report stated that there were 839 child murders during that period.

If we as a community cannot protect our little ones from harm, then we have lost it all together.

Turning a blind eye is never an option. On the contrary, it should be “every child is my child”.

Isn’t it ironic that we need a licence to own a TV, a firearm or a driver’s licence to drive a car, but we can produce children freely, yet not care about them the way we should.

By the time you read this column I would have had my gall bladder removed at Groote Schuur Hospital.

I was given a list of what foods I will have to avoid in future. It is going to be challenging. I have been quite nervous, I’m not lying. But I will be in good hands and care. I might even be discharged today. It is my first operation. I have been reflecting on my life, health, etc and there is some changes I would like to make once I am fully recovered.

I would love to go on a road trip or an overland safari. As a South African I have never seen a rhino in real life. It’s things like that I want to do.

I’ve wasted some serious time in my life. I know that. Hopefully I will still be able to do what I need to do.

Stay safe, smile and be gentle to yourself.

* Danny Oosthuizen is the ambassador of #TheDignityProject. In his weekly column for the Cape Argus he tackles the struggles homeless people face. Connect with Danny on Facebook and on Twitter @masekind3213 or via email: [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus