DURBAN - Three child abuse incidents around Christmas Day have prompted KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza to call for vigorous action against the violation of children’s rights in the province.
A 16-year-old orphaned girl from Mtubatuba was chained for days without food, a six-year-old was burnt to death by his mother's boyfriend in Verulam, and a three-year-old was rescued by police after her mother dangled her from the fifth floor window of a flat.
“We are extremely concerned that children suffer abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them. How do you explain the incident of chaining a child and starving him for days? It is even more disturbing that people who are so cruel are also blood relatives to this girl. We are really facing a serious crisis as a nation. Our children are facing violence and abuse of horrific proportions in this province,” Khoza said.
She said children were always facing an increased risk of abuse and violence from those who were supposed to protect them.
Khoza also said it was disappointing that even during the festive season, where people were supposed to spread love and peace, children became casualties.
“It is heartbreaking to learn about a child who was burnt to death in a shack by his mother's boyfriend in Verulam. This heartless man opted to burn a shack with a child inside while the mother had gone to the neighbour's house,” Khoza said.
It is alleged the man who burnt the shack was chased by communities and later killed.
Khoza encouraged communities to allow law enforcement agencies to do their job. She said communities should not, at any stage, take the law into their own hands.
“We have raised the alarm on the number of cases of child abuse, but we see more and more parents implicated in such cruel acts. Dangling a child from the window is attempted murder. We find solace that a woman involved in such an incident was arrested. We are grateful to the police for their swift response to this case,” Khoza said.
The girl was rescued by Metro Police and South African Police Service Search and Rescue Unit. A 36-year-old woman was arrested.
The 16-year-old orphaned girl was also rescued by social workers on Friday and removed to the Child and Youth Care Centre.
“We are pleased that community members got involved and informed us about the constant abuse of a child. She is now receiving psycho-social support following her ordeal. We are going to open a case against the child abusers,” Khoza said.
She said violence against children was unacceptable at any time, and it was a societal problem that needed every sector's involvement.
“We need to work together and isolate those involved in the abuse of children in our communities. We need to share information with law enforcement agencies and social workers in order to be able to deal with those individuals involved in cruelty against children.”
Khoza also applauded social workers for always working tirelessly in ensuring children's rights were protected and prioritised.