Department of Social Development urges people to press charges against child rapists – SABC News

Deputy Social Development Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu has urged people to open statutory rape cases against those who sleep with underage girls and impregnate them.

She was speaking at the launch of Child Protection Week in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.

This year, the focus will be on teen pregnancy, which peaked during COVID-19 in 2021.

National Child Protection Week is celebrated annually in South Africa to raise awareness of children’s rights as set out in the Children’s Act 2005.

The small rural town of Lusikisiki has been identified as one of the teenage pregnancy hotspots, with 671 reported cases in the past two years of girls aged 10 to 14 becoming pregnant.

Bogopane-Zulu says communities must play an active role in protecting children.

“We are slow both as government and NPOs, community and traditional leaders to open cases of statutory rape, even though the law says that if a child has sex before the age of 16, it is statutory rape. For some strange reason, we’re having trouble getting people to pay. It’s time we took child protection seriously.

Meanwhile, civil society organization Women and Men Against Child Abuse say that as Child Protection Week begins, the government’s strategy must become more inclusive in helping abused children.

South Africa has high rates of abuse of women and children compared to many other countries.

The organisation’s spokesperson, Ngaa Murombedzi, said it was disconcerting that a ten-year-old pregnant child was categorized as a teenage pregnancy.

Ngaa Murombedzi shares more in the interview below:

-Additional reporting by SABC News

Joel C. Hicks