‘We have failed our children’

Two men are due in court on Wednesday in connection with the murder of a 10-year-old girl from Manenberg. Charnelle McCrawl’s body was found dumped near Primrose Park with visible signs of assault.

Violence against children and women has come under the spotlight in Cape Town this year‚ following the murder of three-year-old Courtney Pieters. After visiting her family in Elsies River‚ President Jacob Zuma said: “This is one of the saddest incidents I have come across.’’

And recently an international social media campaign has seen thousands of women speak about being victims of sexual harassment and abuse. On Tuesday‚ Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter took to Facebook to reveal that she had been raped by an ex-boyfriend.

Parents can’t hit their children - it’s unconstitutional‚ court rules 

Little Charnelle is among the 70 children reportedly killed in the Western Cape this year.

At the release of the latest crime statistics in parliament on Tuesday‚ police said the 3‚478 women and children killed made up approximately 13% of all murder victims in the past year.

The statistics‚ for the period between April 2016 and March 2017‚ revealed that of that 3‚478‚ women comprised 2‚369‚ 574 were boys‚ and 265 were girls.

Addressing the media following the release of the statistics‚ police minister Fikile Mbalula slammed parents who were negligent towards their children.

“The problem in South Africa is that whenever there is a problem‚ we blame the state‚ but nobody takes responsibility. We grew up in families where we did not have anything – we were not rich‚ but we were raised by our families‚” said Mbalula.

He said parents should learn from the Courtney murder – and other examples in which children have been raped by people they trusted.

“So we must equally say to parents – look after your children. If you have got kids‚ let’s teach our children responsibility‚” he said.

He said his ministry can’t have officers in every street‚ and that crime will not be resolved by them‚ but by society.

The statistics also show that reported sexual offences overall had dropped by 4‚3%‚ with rape dropping by 4%. Sexual assault had gone up by 0.9%‚ however‚ which represents 59 cases.

Director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children‚ Shaheema McLeod‚ said she had expected statistics to be quite high on the incidence of violent crime perpetrated against women and children.

“There was an expectation that more needs to be done when it comes to the protection of those vulnerable communities‚” she said.

She said more specific statistics in relation to these crimes needed to be provided by the police in order to decisively deal with the problem.

McLeod said it was concerning that information was only obtained from the likes of NGOs‚ and not police‚ to fully understand violent crimes against women and children.

Roegshanda Pascoe‚ Manenberg Safety Forum chairperson‚ also called for parents to take more responsibility for their children.

In reference to Charnelle‚ Pascoe said the community had failed her.