Hanover Park on the Cape Flats has been identified by the Department of Social Development as a particular area of concern. File photo: AP
Hanover Park on the Cape Flats has been identified by the Department of Social Development as a particular area of concern. File photo: AP

Nearly 37 000 kids removed from violent homes in Western Cape

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Aug 20, 2019

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Cape Town – Nearly 37 000 children in the province have been removed from their homes, which are deemed dangerous, with a prevalence of traumatic events, including negligence, abuse and rape.

Hanover Park on the Cape Flats has been identified by the Department of Social Development as a particular area of concern.

This came to light at the African Regional Child Trauma Conference in the Cape Town CBD, which aims to highlight and address child trauma.

The conference is in a landmark year, marking the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A “Leaving No Child Behind” Charter is also being developed to elevate the urgency of addressing child violence and trauma on the African continent.

The charter is anticipated to be signed by the conference partners.

Social Service Professions president Dr Maria Mabetoa, who is also the chairperson of the conference, said yesterday: “Child abuse in Africa continued to escalate despite measures taken to address this and the majority of African children cannot access appropriate child protection or health-care services.

“Despite progressive legislation and pockets of excellence in law enforcement, health, judicial and social services, effective responses to child protection keeps missing the mark.”

Mabetoa said many children lack access to justice and experience secondary trauma in the system that is meant to protect them.

According to Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, who shared the department’s concerns on child safety, 36173 children have been removed from homes, which were dangerous or had potentially dangerous circumstances, and were placed where there was adequate care and safety.

“We are concerned about the unacceptably high severity of child abuse and neglect. Children are left alone unattended by parents who are addicted to alcohol and drugs.

“This is while threats and risk of sexual abuse is more prevalent at home now more than on the streets.

“Currently we are dealing with cases where an 18-month-old and eight-month-old babies were raped at home. A provincial plan of action has been drawn up to reduce child murders in the province and is in the implementation phase.”

Fernandez said there were 353 children in Hanover Park who were in foster care.

According to Fernandez, the newly-launched child protection SMS hotline has been inundated with calls from whistle-blowers, however, they’re faced with the challenge of not having places of safety urgently or immediately when dealing with child rape and are in need of more safety or foster parents.

According an Optimus National Prevalence Study, which was released last month, an estimated 42% of South Africa’s children have experienced some form of maltreatment, and 82% have either experienced or witnessed some form of victimisation.

One in three children have experienced physical or sexual abuse; one in four emotional abuse; and one in five neglect, according to the study.

The study showed that there was a near 50% split between boys and girls presenting signs of abuse, violence and neglect.

Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said: “About 35% of the cases we receive in the organisation are child neglect and child abuse cases. 

"In some of the child neglect cases, parents don’t adhere to the needs of the children, because they would abandon them with their grandparents. While in other instances, substance abuse is the main reason. ‘

‘These instances leave children vulnerable to secondary abuse from guardians or caregivers, and in other cases children are left to fend for themselves. 

"Child neglect has an emotional and psychological toll on the child, as a child needs a parent not only to be physically available, but emotionally available to a child’s needs.” 

A moment of silence for all slain children and those who have suffered and continue to suffer from abuse was observed by the experts, researchers, community members and child protection practitioners, including the Teddy Bear Foundation and UCT’s Children’s Institute that were in attendance. 

● To report child abuse and neglect SMS the word “help” to 31022 and they will call you back (a standard rate of 50c per SMS applies).

People can report suspected child abuse or neglect to Childline via their National Crisis line at 0800 055 555 or Childline Western Cape at 021 762 8198 or 021 461 1114. 

Rape Crisis can be contacted at 021 447 1467. Contact Crime Stop anonymously on 08600 10111 or SMS Crime Line at 32211 and the domestic violence Helpline at 0800 150 150.

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