Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture director Valdi van Reenen-le Roux
Since January, 61 child murders have rocked the Western Cape, the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture says.

The highest number of deaths of young people aged 18 and under were recorded in June - Youth Month.

During this month, 11 child murders, including the rape and murder of 18-month-old Jeremiah Ruiters from Kensington, were committed.

Yesterday, the Community Chest hosted a collaborative meeting in aid of efforts to stop child murders and abuse. Various organisations joined the conversation at the Novalis Ubuntu Institute in Wynberg, where public health researcher and director of the Children’s Institute, Professor Shanaaz Matthews, emphasised that programme development should “encompass a communitywide approach instead of silo approaches”.

“We need to increase investment in prevention. Presently, it is largely being spent on response to violence instead of prevention. Our child protection system is failing us and we need to revise this system,” Matthews said.

Trauma Centre director Valdi Van Reenen-le Roux called for a commission of inquiry into child murders in the province.

“The commission of inquiry will hold the government accountable. Why is there not sufficient support for child protection and why is there no budget for it?” Le Roux asked.

The Community Chest previously committed R150 000 in funding to facilitate a concerted, collaborative effort by childcare organisations and role-players against disturbingly high levels of child abuse and murder in the province.

Speaking for the Hope Community Development Project organisation in Hanover Park, Lesley Muller said the community had experienced 15 murders this year.

“Our killers in Hanover Park are as young as nine years old. Gangsters and gunmen are concentrating on teenagers (for recruitment),” she said.

Philisa Abafazi Bethu director Lucinda Evans said: “The approach needs to stretch to rural areas because these killings are not confined to the metro only. Gangs are infiltrating rural areas as well,” she said.

The feedback session also saw the introduction of a mock-up app which would put people who need assistance in situations of violence and drug abuse in contact with organisations closest to them. 

It is hoped the app will be operational in three weeks.

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