Child group slams 'failed' register

A CHILDREN'S rights group is bemused that the department of social development only has a few hundred names on the child protection register despite the high levels of rape.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa last week released crime statistics for the year April 2011 to March 2012 in parliament and said about 64514 sexual offences were reported, of which about 40% - 25862 - were committed against children.

In the same period, 800 children were murdered.

But the register (CPR) registered only 438 names from April 2010 to March 2012.

This is despite the number of child rapes hovering well over 20000 for the past few years, according to Mike Waters, DA MP and the party's spokesman for social development.

The CPR, which was created in terms of the 2005 Children's Act, contains a list of people convicted on charges of child abuse or deliberate neglect, and a record of people found to be unsuitable to work with children.

Women and Men Against Child Abuse spokeswoman Vincentia Dlamini-Ngobese accused the department of social development, which administers the CPR, of being inefficient.

"We know that a lot of perpetrators are re-offending. We find that people arrested in KwaZulu-Natal for example are also linked by DNA to rapes in Gauteng. When we check the register, their names are not there," Dlamini-Ngobese said.

She said in her experience, "you would find that a teacher is put on the department of education database as an offender after a disciplinary process, but they simply move to the private sector and continue working with children".

"Remember, rape is generally under-reported and in many cases parents withdraw cases because the alleged offender is a breadwinner," Dlamini-Ngobese said.

Waters said: "About 80% of child sex offenders are known to the child and are usually people with whom that child has a relationship of trust, such as a family member, teacher, caretaker or sports coach. It is clear that the CPR is not being used effectively. As a result, our children are being preyed upon by sexual predators."

Department of social development spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant said it was not a given that someone convicted of child abuse or a sexual offence against a child would be listed on the register.

"There is still a justice process people must go through, otherwise the department would always be taken to court.

"After conviction, a court has to make an order that someone is unfit to work with children before we list them." - moengk@sowetan.co.za

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