A monstrous week for SA’s children

2014-06-08 15:00

It is a staggering irony that these past seven days have been marked as Child Protection Week.

Daily newspapers have been full of graphic tales of violence, abuse and neglect of children, and the coverage has been relentless.

The behaviour of some parents has been hard to read about. In a bail application this week, a court heard how a father from Springs allegedly raped and beat his wife, and tortured his children.

He would suspend his 11-year-old son with chains by his hands and feet to the ceiling of his home for days at a time. The boy had bruises of all colours and even his eyes bled from the beatings.

Details emerged of another monstrous father, this time from Alexandra, who had chained up his four children for up to eight years. Neighbours reported the matter to authorities but nothing was done.

Another story was of a teacher raping a 12-year-old pupil, a common occurrence in our country.

Besides these tales of gross personal violence, there have been others of more insidious abuse, indicative of the callous indifference many in our society display towards those in greatest need of our protection and care.

More details emerged this week of the baby who died outside Soweto’s Itireleng Clinic because the oxygen machine did not work. Then there was the story about the children of Sekhukhune, Limpopo.

Here, the feeding scheme is so dysfunctional that they are forced to survive on reduced rations, sometimes just a spoonful of cooked spinach. For many, it’s their only meal of the day.

Three babies died in Bloemhof. The water supply contained E.coli bacteria and the municipality didn’t care enough to fix a sewage pipe.

In a few decades, when we spend our twilight years in a society more savage and morally destitute than this one, we will have only ourselves to blame. Today’s children?–?tomorrow’s leaders?– deserve better than this.

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