The Western Cape MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato, has called on criminologists and other academics to get to the bottom of women and child abuse in the province.
He made this call at a meeting dubbed the ‘1000 Real Man March Against Abuse’ in Strandfontein, organised by the ward councillor and community activists. It is one in a series of meetings he has attended to address communities about women and child abuse in the Western Cape.
The meetings come after an increase in child deaths in the province. Only last month, a two- and a three-year-old were murdered in Khayelitsha and Elsies River respectively.
“I really don’t have an answer as to why we have an increase of such cases . I think its time criminologists and other academics make a research on this. The cases are on the increase in the province and to root this out we should involve everyone,” said Plato.
Reports from police on child rapes and murders in Elsies River and Khayelitsha recently revealed that the perpetrators are typically people known to the families of the victim.
“It becomes very difficult dealing with such cases [where] the perpetrators are well known to the family,” he said, adding that families must be alert all the time on who they accommodate as a friend.
Councillor Elton Jansen urged law makers to pass harsher sentences on any perpetrators.
“I urge the law makers to pass harsher sentences for any perpetrator of such crime. This will pass a clear message to those would-be offenders,” said Jansen.
If such cases are in courts, he added, civil society will stand and demonstrate against any bail that may be granted.
Elitsha spoke to some of the Strandfontein residents.
“The abuse of women and children has always been in existence. The difference is that perpetrators of such crimes now rape and kill the victims,” said Leslie Ross.
According to Ross (73), the behaviour of any human being depends on how one was brought up.
“The mindset of these perpetrators tells us the type of environment they grew up in. If one was brought up in an abusive environment, he or she is likely to be abusive,” says Ross.
Francis Eastorn who has stayed in Strandfontein for 25 years , said, “Our communities have a problem, we now live isolated. No-one takes care of what is happening next door. We should have this mind, ‘your child is my child and my child is yours.”
Eastorn suggests that if communities live as one family, cases of women and child abuse could be minimised.
Meanwhile Strandfontein SAPS expressed concern at the number of victims of abuse who are pressured into withdrawing charges against the abuser.
“Some of the victims a day after reporting the case and police are on the matter they come forward to withdraw the case. This makes our work very difficult,” said the police.