The play area at Dros in Silverton. Picture: Rudzani Matshili

The horrific rape of a seven-year old girl in a restaurant in Pretoria highlights that society is not yet sufficiently aware of the dangers facing children and other vulnerable people, says the Salvation Army.

Major Carin Holmes, PR Secretary of the Southern Africa region of the Salvation Army, responded to the news of the rape this week with outrage. 

A young man is alleged to have abducted a young girl from the female rest room of a family restaurant and raped her in the men’s rest room. She had been playing in the children’s play area of the restaurant.

“Our biggest concern is that, in spite of all our efforts to create awareness of human trafficking and sexual abuse, parents and other care givers have still to learn of the need to keep children in their sights in public places, and not to let them go to restrooms on their own.

“We are simply not teaching our children about the dangers around them. It takes a tragedy such as this to remind parents of their responsibility to talk to their children about abuse and how easily it can happen,” she added.

Major Holmes said she was also appalled that other restaurant patrons had observed the rapist’s interest in the little girl, but no one intervened.

“As a society, we are too complacent, too tame, not vigilant enough. We don't talk to our children about the dangers, we don't teach them.

“We can demand better security at play areas, better laws, better justice etc, but the only things that will be effective are vigilant parents, citizens who do not keep quiet when they see something weird developing, informed children, and open dialogue amongst ourselves about these issues.

“Knowledge is power and when we talk, we remove the stigma and taboo behind which these predators hide,” she concluded.