140723. Cape Town. Jaylen Scalurdâ¬"s family, friends and classmates stand around his grave site in Muizenberg. Ten-year-old Mitchells Plain boy Jaylen Scalurd, who lost his life after being caught in gang crossfire, being laid to rest at the Muizenberg cemetry. He was hit by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting outside his Beacon Valley home last week.He later died in hospital. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Cape Town - The DA says it will probe the surge in child murders following a recent reply to a parliamentary question that revealed a staggering increase last year.

The DA parliamentary question, asked by MP Mike Waters, revealed that the number of murder cases reported against children had gone up from 793 in 2011/2012 to 827 in 2012/2013.

“This is cause for great concern,” said DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko also revealed in his reply that these child murders were committed using firearms, knives, knobkieries and pangas.

Barnard pointed out that Nhleko’s sampled data only took into consideration child murder allegations that had reached the courts between 2011 and 2013. “It is certain that there are a multitude of child murder cases that never make it to court owing to bungled investigations and a generally overstretched SAPS,” she said.

The South African Medical Research Council found that cases following a post-mortem investigation often ended there and did not become subjected to police investigation.

“Every single one of these murders must reach a court of law… We also need to improve the SAPS’s ability to stop these murders from taking place,” Barnard said.

The DA would submit further parliamentary questions to ascertain how many of these murders resulted in successful convictions, how many were acquittals, and how many never made it to court on account of lack of evidence or bungled investigations.

Meanwhile, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato is pushing national police commissioner Riah Phiyega for clarity on her proposals of force against gangs. On Tuesday, he said he would write to Phiyega, asking for information about her plans to introduce heavily armed members of the national intervention unit, tactical response team and public order policing units to combat gang hot spots across the country.

“Too many lives have been lost through gang warfare,” Plato said. “The recent spate of innocent people being killed, especially children caught in crossfire, cannot continue any longer.”

He said while the Western Cape government welcomed any action by the SAPS against gangsters, he questioned whether this deployment was the best solution available. The units proposed were already thinly stretched owing to continued protest action across the country, he said, while the use of excessive force by these units could result in more lives lost and not necessarily the arrests needed to get gangsters off the streets.

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Cape Argus