Child Abuse

 Rape victimBackground

Staff offer counselling and advice to children who are victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as those who have been neglected or abandoned. They take victims’ statements, often after police have brought them to a support centre and asked coordinators to assist. Community members bring children directly to support centres, while children frequently come forward during visits and presentations in schools.

Mothers or caregivers of abused children, who are too timid to act when their child is being abused, are grateful for the intervention of the coordinators. Most children are abused or repeatedly raped by immediate members of the family.

Child abuse is here defined as any crime against a client under 18. In 2011 there were 431 cases, comprising 7% of all cases and showing a slight decrease from 2010.

“The children are now aware of their rights and that makes it so much harder to abuse them. For this reason the level of abuse has decreased.” 
- Respondent in Estcourt, 2006 Impact Evaluation

Sindi Mkhwanazi, Dec 2008: 

Severe Corporal Punishment

A 6-9 year old child was accompanied by the community development worker who reported that this child was being beaten very badly by his dad using an iron rope on the child’s whole body. The mother of the child was from Lesotho and the community development worker informed me that the neighbours had told her that the child’s father had beaten the child’s mother to death. Before she died she managed to escape with the child, while seriously injured, back to her home in Lesotho where she ended up dying and leaving her son with his Child abusematernal family.

When the child’s dad heard about the mother’s death he went to Lesotho and fetched his son. The dad is a farm worker and when he is at work the child is left unattended with no food for the whole day. When the father comes back from work and finds that the child has not been at home he assaults and kicks the child’s whole body.

On this day he found that the child had been watching TV with a neighbour and assaulted the child very badly. The head was swollen and so were the other parts of the body. The child was so dirty, showing that he had not had a bath for a very long time. 
                          (Right) A victim of child abuse in Plessislaer Support Centre     

I accompanied the child to Welfare with the community development worker. We asked to see the head of Social Development. She advised us to accompany the child to the SAPS for statement-taking and this was done.

He then went to Emmaus Hospital where the doctor examined the child. She prescribed painkillers as the child complained of a headache. We were late coming from the hospital and so I bought food for the child because he said he was starving.

I took the child to my cottagScarred childe and bathed him. I asked my landlord if he could donate clothes for the child. Fortunately he was sympathetic and the child was given clean clothes to wear. When we went to bed I was so afraid that the child’s father would come to my residence and forcefully take the child. Fortunately we slept well and nothing happened.

I bought more food for the child and Detective van den Berg donated R30 for food for the child. In the afternoon the social worker arrived with a person who took the child to a place of safety. The case against the child’s father is still pending in court.

Additional Information: The coordinator included copies of the official photographs of the abused young child. The injuries are so serious and extensive that without the report of the community development worker and the intervention of coordinator, the abuse was likely to kill the boy.

 "We caught the man that night. He admitted everything and was sentenced to jail within three days of being caught, which is very unusual. I helped the girl to give statements to the police and this helped convict the man."  

- Coordinator Zodwa Maramane

Anti Tshabalala, June 2008:

Child Raped on the way Home from the River

A 13-year-old girl who was in Grade 8 at Gabi High School arrived at the office for counselling due to the fact that she had been seriously sexually abused by a stranger. There had been more than 5 girls who had gone down to the river for a bath. On the way back home they had seen a man whose head was covered with a mask. He had tried to stop them, but they had run away. The incident had taken place at 11a.m. on a holiday.

That person then tried to follow her. She had fallen down and was conscious and the manRape of a child caught up with her. The others had run away. He took her to the forest and forced her to remove her panties and then raped her. She cried, pleading with him not to kill her, but it seemed as if he had not heard her.

After that he went with her to cross the river and raped her again. The victim had become very hungry by that time. While he had been raping her, she had heard noises of other people approaching. She had told him to leave her alone and that the police were there also. He then ran away.

The police approached her and then took her to the police station to take her statement. After that, she was taken to the district surgeon for an examination. She was then transferred to hospital. When she had come out of hospital, she was referred to the centre for counselling, although she was still inclined to vomit. I tried to help her with that. She went home much happier after the counselling.

 “More and more people are becoming aware that child abuse is not to be tolerated.”

- Respondent, 2007 Impact Study

Nombuso Ngcobo, November 2008:

Rape of a Child

The rape involved a child aged 11 years. She resides in the Emakhasi area. On 2 November 2008 at about 14.00 she was playing with her other siblings outside of the family premises. The suspect, who is their neighbour, asked her to fetch his cell phone to reChild rape victim-charge at home.

The suspect was standing next to the door of the house. When sh e got inside the house the suspect moved to the bedroom door and told her to come and fetch the cell phone. He immediately closed the main door and called her to follow him to the bedroom. She followed him, unaware that he was going to rape her. He told her to remove her trousers and her underwear and put her on the bed. He then raped her.

On 4 November 2008 the case was reported by the school teacher and a member of the board of governors. On that day I went to the charge office to report it to the SAPS and a case of rape was opened.

I counselled the victim and her grandmother. I explained the case procedure as well as the doctor’s examination to the victim. I took the statement from the victim and the victim was taken to the doctor by a female police officer. On 5 November 2008 the suspect was arrested.

 “In cases of child rape, it takes too long for the perpetrator to go to trial. There are too many delays and often the man is not found guilty.”

- Coordinator Sibongile Mchunu

The case is under investigation. 



Dudu Basi, January 2008:

Abandoned Child

On 5 January 2008 a community health worker visited my home to report that a one year old child had been abandoned at a shack by his mother. The mother was nowhere to be found and the father is 17 years old.
Abandoned child
I visited the shack and found the child sitting outside. The sun was very hot. Tenants were there too and were laughing and watching the child crying. I picked him up and he fell asleep in my arms.

I phoned the social worker and she said she could only attend to the child on the following day because it was Sunday. I bought some food for the child and asked a health worker to take the child to her house and look after him until the following day. She agreed to do this.

I asked the social worker for some food parcels for the child and she said that her boss who is responsible for signing vouchers was not available for the whole week. I bought some food for the child. The social worker told me that the child can only be moved to Clouds of Hope place of safety on 11 January.
Children's ShelterOn 11 January at about 3pm the social worker phoned me and asked me to take the child to Clouds of Hope place of safety because she has no transport and that she is going somewhere.

At about 5.30 pm, as soon as I arrived from work, I put the child on my back and took him to Clouds of Hope place of safety. The child was welcomed with warm hands by the woman who runs the shelter. I visited the baby two days later and was happy – it was clean and had new clothes. It was later sent to a good school. I always visit the centre to see how the child is. It’s two and a half years old now. The child will stay there until he finishes school.


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