Johannesburg - Crimes against children and women robbed children of their innocence, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund said on Tuesday.

Acting chief executive Moipone Buda-Ramatlo's office said the crime statistics released on Thursday were an indication of the battle South Africa faced to “allow children to be simply children”.

“Being a children's organisation, we are extremely concerned about the continued plight faced by women, as custodians of children's well-being, as well as the direct violence that is claiming both the innocence and lives of children.”

The organisation called on police and ordinary citizens to contribute to the fight against crime.

Crime statistics indicated that 800 children were murdered and 12,645 were assaulted in the 2011/2012 reporting period. For adult women, 87,191 assaults were reported.

This was despite the fact that crimes against women and children were ranked among the police's top 10 priority crimes and that the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit was dedicated to this category of crime.

“Considering that the trust levels are yet to be settled between communities and the police, the real picture may still be incomplete due to probable reasons of under-reporting,” Buda-Ramatlo's office said. - Sapa