More than a hundred children marched through the streets of Mfuleni on Friday to raise their voices against abuse following the rape of a 3-year-old girl in the Bosasa shanty town.
Community leader Liziwe Nko said they had been shocked to learn of the child’s rape, allegedly at the hands of a neighbour three weeks ago.
“We made sure that the suspect was arrested immediately, and the child was taken to hospital, where she received treatment. The accused has abandoned his bail application because he knows that we are angered by his act,” said Ms Nko.
According to Mfuleni SAPS, a 37-year-old man appeared in court on Monday September 18 and is still in custody until the matter is heard later in the month.
Xolani Mcoyana, from Khuseleka Gender Based Violence and Support Services, the non-profit organisation that organised the march as well as a school-holiday programme, said they were trying to curb child abuse and neglect in the area.
“There is a lot of child neglect in this area, and that often leads to child abuse. The child who was raped here was under no one’s care at the time of the incident. We are teaching children to take safety precautions at all times,” said Mr Mcoyana.
Nkosi Sindile Sigcau, from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, told the children that the government had made laws to protect them.
“You must report everything that is wrong to your parents, teachers and the police. If your own mothers are using the grant money to buy weaves, nails and not taking care of you, you must report them so that we can deal with them,” said Mr Sigcau.
He said it broke his heart to see schoolchildren with no uniforms or shoes.
Mfuleni SAPS Safer Schools co-ordinator Constable Nontatu Sitole told the children to stay away from crime and not to bully others.
“If you commit crime, you will ruin your future; stay at school and dream big. There are teachers, police, doctors and lawyers among you,” she said.
Junior deputy station commander, Tsakelani Hlongwani, a high school pupil, urged the children to always report suspicious activities to the police, parents and their teachers.