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Protecting our Children

01 June 2021

Child Protection Week is commemorated annually in South Africa. The week is a reminder, but also to raise awareness of the rights of children.

South Africa has one of the best Constitutions in the world. Our legislation is also well-crafted. The problem is that when we have the Child Act (Act 38 of 2005) for example, the enforcement and implementation is what is lacking in South Africa.

Children in South Arica are not safe! If we look at the number of child murders, rape, abuse and neglect stories, everyday is a new child. Children! Our children are most vulnerable in society because the justice system is corrupt and of course, a decline in expertise in the police. Productive time is almost non-existent. So many of us have had a bad experience with the police, and we are often frustrated with the criminal justice system.

The latest crime statistics are a true reflection of the violence in our Country. The numbers tell us that women and children live in constant fear and on the constant receiving end of the violence. What we need from the statistics are the actual figures of crimes against women and crimes against children. All we can deduce from the statistics is that the violence within society has not slowed down, even during a pandemic!

It was just only yesterday when I had a deep rage.

Tazne Van Wyk, an 8-year old girl, who was raped, mutilated and murdered in 2020. The murderer went on the run and later arrested in Eastern Cape. Transported back to the Western cape, he led police to where he had discarded of Tazne’s body in a stormwater drain on the N1, outside Worcester.

My rage was a substantial part of the day for two reasons:

  1. The murderer was out on parole after 10years for culpable homicide* and kidnapping. However, he absconded for a year before Tazne’s death. He already had charges racked up for violent crimes against women. In the world we are living in the parole system is flawed. It allowed a man so dangerous to be let free. The fact the was able to abscond for a year is beyond comprehension. The trial has been postponed to May 2022. The family, who fight poverty and fight to survive, spent R170 on travel costs to the court. Only to be told that the case is postponed by a year. As someone who has no children or been in a situation where I have needed to go to court for a trial, I can only but imagine the rage, frustration, hurt. [Oh the rage that would boil within me and the eruption thereof! I could then not be held accountable to my actions.]

  2. Tazne’s parents and family have had to deal with the tragic and gruesome loss of their child. However, the justice system expects one to react in dignity and respect. How can we, when justice in this country has a repetitive history of showing us the proverbial ‘middle finger’.

This is just one incident most recent during Child Protection Week I am writing about. But there are so many children where society, government and the criminal justice system has failed them. So many children are in danger of abuse, hunger, violence.

Visions of Change is an organisation that cares for the wellbeing of all. Moreover, of children. Children cannot fight the adult battles. Children are meant to be children. They are meant to be safe and free to walk to a shop, go to school, play in the park, without the fear of the societal ills that plague us, especially in poor communities.

The rhetoric of ‘parents should not let their children wonder’, and that parents are irresponsible to let their children walk to school must come to an end. If that is your immediate reaction – check your privilege! Your unthought and beleaguered statement is telling of your acceptance of the system and choice to accept this dangerous, ill way of life. Instead of fighting for justice. Do not be part of the problem!

Visions of Change will always support and fight for the rights of our children. Children are not only the leaders of tomorrow. Children today are leaders of NOW! They are worthy of taking up space in society.

As we commemorate Child Protection Week, let us remind you of what child protection is:

  • the safeguarding of children from abuse and neglect and violence and heinous crimes.

  • to ensure inclusion and the wellbeing of children in all aspects – mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically. Always. Not just for a week.

  • when we encourage and help children develop to reach their full potential.

  • when we fight against the societal ills of poverty, gangsterism, materialism and improve the outlook of their futures.

  • when we stand up and fight for our children and their freedom, and that which is protected in our Constitution.

Let us no longer, as a community, a country, fail our children. The failure of our children is a cost to society. The healthy development of our children paves a way for a bright and successful future where their existence is not built on a cracked foundation of a childhood marred with poverty, hunger, environmental pollution, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, lack of opportunities, crime. And as adults, we must do better.

Children do not deserve their current realities.

Your Child Is My Child

Intandane enhle ingumakhotha ngunina (isiZulu)

Intombi yintyantyambo yesizwe (isiXhosa)

Imveku yomnye umzali luxanduva lomnye (isiXhosa)

Nwana wa munye ndi nwana wau (Tshivenda)

Ngwana wa me ke ngwana wa sechaba (Setswana)

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