Child protection units to make a comeback

3-year-old Viwe Mnembe was found murdered in Khayelitsha. Pic: SHELLEY CHRISTIANS. 28/06/2009. © The Times.
3-year-old Viwe Mnembe was found murdered in Khayelitsha. Pic: SHELLEY CHRISTIANS. 28/06/2009. © The Times.

A TASK team from the Ministry of Police will submit a report to minister Nathi Mthethwa before the end of the year on relaunching disbanded specialised units dealing with child and women abuse.

A TASK team from the Ministry of Police will submit a report to minister Nathi Mthethwa before the end of the year on relaunching disbanded specialised units dealing with child and women abuse.

This comes after a spate of grisly child murders and a sharp rise in the the number of murders of teenagers.

"We are expecting a report from the task team before the end of the year," ministry spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

"We want to revamp the unit with the skills that we lost during the restructuring process.

"We want to get all the experienced officers back into the unit to deal with child killings"

The units, he said, were moved to police stations to be closer to the public. But this "had not" had an effect.

Mulaudzi said several aspects still had to be looked at - in terms of human and material resources - before the specialised units could be relaunched.

Earlier this week the ministry reported, in a reply to a parliamentary question, that 1410 children were murdered in 2007-08.

Most murders were in KwaZulu-Natal, where 370 children were killed, followed by Eastern Cape, where 350 children were murdered and Western Cape with 277 and Gauteng with 153 murders.

In one case, in June, the Khayelitsha magistrate's court heard how a three-year-old girl died after being stabbed a total of 19 times.

Viwe Mnembe's body was found in bushes near her home after she was held hostage, allegedly by her mother's ex-boyfriend.

In another case last month a 36-year-old man was charged with the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl, Montesha Kekana, in the Vredenburg area on the West Coast.

Democratic Alliance MP  Debbie Schafer said statistics showed that four children were murdered in South Africa every day and that child murders were up 31percent since the disbanding of the family violence, child protection and sexual offences units in 2006.

"Before the decision (to disband the units) child murders had decreased to 1075 in 2005-06.

"They have increased every year since to 1152 in 2006-07, and then up by 22,4percent in the last year - to 1410.

"The ANC's U-turn on this matter is to be welcomed since it is a decision that will genuinely benefit our attempts to address the ongoing scourge of crime in South Africa."

The DA applauded the announcement that protection units would be reintroduced, Schafer said.

A recent study, conducted by the organisation, Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, released in March, confirmed that shutting down the units had been "a failure".

Linda Naidoo, director of Childline, said the statistics were cause for immediate action by the police.

"These statistics are very distressing," Naidoo said.

"We have noticed that circumstances for many children have deteriorated, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.

"Children are being killed in a variety of ways, whether through domestic violence, kidnapping or organ trafficking.

"There has to be a review of the circumstances that predispose children to being killed."

Naidoo said a shortage of resources was holding back support for children under threat.

"Often the police are the last to know about a child murder," she said.

"What we need is a collaborative response to tackle the problem effectively.

"The minister of police needs to tell us what the way forward is so that everyone knows what is happening.

"What are our plans to ensure we minimise the number of murders next year?

"Are there adequate resources to look after our children?" - Sapa

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