Cape Town - While the community of Delft is still reeling from a spate of child murders and rape cases that have shattered the community since January, this weekend it will serve as a launch site of this year’s Child Protection Week, next week.
Two months have passed since the death of Lihle Hlanjwa who was raped and set alight along the R300.
Community forum representative Pieter Presents says: “Things were out of hand, but we have been fighting crime and trying to bring it under control. We are hoping that Child Protection Week is going to make a difference.”
Lumka Oliphant, speaking on behalf of the national department of Social Development, says: “Child protection week is significantly launched in Delft this Sunday because of a number of incidents of violence against children that have taken place in the area.
“The department has also conducted community dialogues with the residents of Delft which revealed that this area is affected by incidents of violence, crime, dysfunctional families and gender-based violence.”
This year also marks 10 years of the National Child Protection Register which keeps a record of cases of abuse and deliberate neglect, convictions and outcomes of the Children’s Court.
Between 2004 and this year, more than 32 000 cases of child abuse were recorded in the register.
Social Development MEC Albert Fritz says: “While we work round the clock all year long to protect vulnerable children, the state can never be a replacement for two committed parents who raise a child in a safe, protected, nurturing and loving home.”
While Delft is the site of the launch, other communities are also carrying out activities.
Mdebuka Mthwazi, the director of a child-focused NGO Sikhula Sonke Early Childhood Development in Khayelitsha, says: “We want our children to know that they can go to the police or rescue services for help and that it can make the difference between life and death.
“This week is all about building relationships between the organisations that serve Khayelitsha. Working together we can create a safe and healthy environment for our children.”
This comes in the wake of “recently reported incidents of gross child abuse which include rape, sexual abuse and trafficking of children”, says Mthwazi.
He adds that roundtable discussions being held during the week - alongside music and art activities - include access to basic education (particularly early childhood development), children and HIV/Aids, children’s rights to social services, addressing inequalities and the need to prioritise essential services for young children.
For Avron Urison, a medical director at AllLife which provides life insurance to people living with HIV, Child Protection Week cannot ignore this fundamental problem that still plagues the society.
“With millions of South Africans infected with HIV/ Aids, the levels of orphanhood are high, and this calls for a more comprehensive and systematic response which will ensure that vulnerable children are identified, that their needs are correctly assessed and that they receive cross-sectoral support,” he says.