Johannesburg - The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Tuesday called on all South Africans to fight child abuse with the same intensity that they fought apartheid.
IFP KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson on social development Les Govender said this after the rape and impregnation of a 12-year-old girl from Amanzimtoti, allegedly by a man who provided scholar transport.
Govender said such incidents demanded the need to intensify child protection initiatives.
"Preventing child abuse should be considered as a priority in South Africa. Child abuse is a social problem faced by individuals, societies and the nation.
"Child abuse trends in the country are horrific and the punishment rates are pathetic because most of the cases are never concluded at trial, which means that many perpetrators get off scot-free," said Govender.
He said when perpetrators were not convicted, they often re-offend. Law enforcement was seen by many as unwilling to prosecute abusers, and there were reports about police belittling victims who report incidents of child abuse.
"Yes, as a country we have a mechanism of reporting child abuse, but these same mechanisms are not widely known by many, especially in rural areas and may seem like a hassle for those who would like to report.
"As a society we have a collective responsibility to prevent any form of child abuse. To accomplish this we must initiate and support services and policies that enhance awareness and safety of children and we must advocate for policies and programs to help meet the basic needs of children," said Govender.
"We must also promote research, training and public education to strengthen protective and proactive factors that will serve to insulate our children against sexual abuse."
Govender said the government should tighten child abuse laws, communities should work hand in hand with Government to create a social environment that will strengthen and uphold the enforcement of legislation addressing child abuse.
He said the party calls on the police to work around the clock to apprehend the suspect who allegedly raped and impregnated the child from Amanzimtoti.
"We call for an increase in the number of specialised courts that handle such cases in order to bring swift justice to victims. Child rapists are monsters who have no place in our society. They must be convicted and sent to jail," said Govender.
"The battle against child abuse must be fought with the same vigour our forefathers used to dismantle the pillars of apartheid."
African News Agency (ANA)