Chimaimba Banda

An increasing number of sexual and physical abuse cases are being reported to the medical-legal clinic at Soweto's Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the head of the clinic said on Monday.

Sister Sally Mbulaheni said cases of neglect were not as prevalent as those of sodomy and of sexual and physical abuse, and that the culprits were mostly family members.

In June the clinic dealt with 77 cases of sexual abuse of females, 18 of sodomy and two of physical abuse.

The clinic attended to 12 cases a day of child abuse, and the victims were mostly under 14 years old, Mbulaheni said.

She added that sexual abuse and sodomy were happening on "a daily basis, every minute" in Soweto - and blamed this on "social pathology".

The clinic, run by social welfare and police officers, collects evidence of child abuse for the prosecution of perpetrators.

By the end of May this year more than 37 500 cases of child abuse had been reported to the police's child protection unit.

The International Child Abuse Network has said that in the past 10 years, physical neglect of children rose by 102 percent and sexual abuse by 83 percent.

Welfare officials said awareness of child abuse had led to more cases being reported, but Welfare ministry spokesperson Kgati Sathekge said cases were on the increase.

Guidelines for dealing with such cases had already been presented to the Government.