Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Recent incidents of child abuse paint an undoubtedly disturbing picture of the kind of society we live in.

Not only is it worrying and distressing, but it is a threat to the future of South Africa, because our children are the future leaders of this country.

As the country observed the annual National Child Protection Week, from May 28 to June 4, the South African Police Service joined hands with all other entities to keep our children safe.

The SAPS reiterates the call to community members to report any suspicion of child abuse, neglect or exploitation of children - not only during Child Protection Week - but whenever it may occur.

The SAPS remains committed to ensuring that the priority of preventing and combating crimes against children is continuously addressed, therefore the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigations Units were relaunched in 2010.

We can however, not curb this societal problem on our own and it is important that parents, family members, teachers and community leaders are familiar with the role that they play in exposing any suspected child abuse or exploitation. It is crucial for all these role players to educate children on their safety, as it is the responsibility of the entire community to ensure the safety of our children.

Although the SAPS continues to deploy police officers to patrol the streets in order to maintain visibility and combat crime as part of an intensified drive against criminal activities, the fact that most perpetrators are in close proximity to the victims, often makes it difficult for the police to protect children or prevent criminal acts perpetrated against them; only leaving room for investigation after a child has already been victimised.

The SAPS therefore needs the help of the community members, because crime is committed in those communities, often by people known to the locals. With the help of community members, paedophiles who take advantage of our precious children, can be put behind bars.

Recent cases where intense police investigation led to the arrest of such perpetrators, include the murder of six-year-old Sabelo Dubazane at the hands of his father, Patrick Mjali and his grandmother, Selina Mjali. Patrick was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment and Selina to six years.

In the Eastern Cape, a 30-year-old man was arrested for the rape of a seven-year-old girl and in KwaZulu-Natal, a 30-year-old woman was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping her ten-year-old cousin multiple times.

Members of the SAPS’s FCS Unit continue with their 365 days of crime awareness campaigns, aimed at curbing and combating abuse against children,educating the public about the importance of protecting children and familiarising communities with platforms for reporting abuse.

They continue to work around the clock to investigate children abuse cases.

During the last six months of 2018, 3 142 people accused of committing crimes against women and children, were convicted.

A total of 658 life sentences were handed down by the courts. The SAPS acknowledges and appreciates the involvement of the majority of community members in crime-fighting efforts with the police, and calls on all community members to rally behind us in the fight against this scourge.

If you suspect that any abuse is taking place, do not keep quiet, report it to your nearest police station or the SAPS’s Crime Stop number 0800 10111 immediately.

You may remain anonymous and all information will be treated with the strictest confidence and sensitivity.

* Naidoo is the national SAPS spokesperson.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.