College of Human Sciences

Unisa expert speaks out about child murders in South Africa

National Child Protection Week is commemorated annually in South Africa from 28 May to 4 June to raise awareness of the rights of children. This campaign seeks to strengthen and enhance government’s commitment to upholding the constitutional rights of children as these relate to their care and protection. Yet, despite these rights being enshrined in the Constitution, we regularly encounter media reports of the abuse and killing of children.


Prof Nokuthula Mazibuko

These are brutal, violent and horrific crimes – and the ones we know about are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more are committed, but are never reported or recorded. In many instances, such as the recent brutal murder of two young children, aged four and seven, in Soshanguve, the perpetrators are not immediately apprehended – some never are.

Are we as members of society, communities, schools, religious institutions, government, the police and the judiciary, and through our cultures and traditions, fulfilling our responsibility in protecting our children? The murder of a child is a heinous crime. As scholars, we can cite as reasons for such violent acts broken families, broken societies, and broken religions, cultures and traditions, since the aim of all of these should be to instil moral values and consciousness in our children and our people. Traumatic parent-child experiences, attributable to absent fathers or male figures, child neglect and abuse, and alcoholism, may have a profound impact on establishing and reinforcing a child’s identity and purpose in life. It is painful to know that there are children who are growing up in such conditions; yet, under different circumstances, these children might have grown up to be counted among the greatest leaders of our nation.

As scholars, we implore every agency, society, the police, the judiciary, educators, church leaders and traditions to view it as their personal duty to work towards eliminating child murders. We cannot afford to sit back and make excuses for violations of this nature. The future of the next generation depends on our standing together against this terrible crime, and to ensure that those guilty of it receive the sentence they deserve.

Watch an interview conducted with Prof Mazibuko on SABC News on 6 June 2024

* By Prof Nokuthula Mazibuko, Department of Sociology, College of Human Sciences, Unisa

Publish date: 2024/06/12

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