The worrying issue of child crime in Mzansi

By Doug Mattushek - 15 September 2019Views : 782

The recent release of the crime statistics revealed some harrowing figures, in particular those around children.

Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, there were a total of 21 022 murders, an increase of 3.4% on the previous period.

Shockingly, 736 of the murders were committed by children, a vast increase given the same statistic stood at 47 four years ago.

ALSO READ: Bheki Cele vows SAPS will work hard to halve violent crime over next ten years

Senior project coordinator for the Centre for Child Law's Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Project at the University of Pretoria, Zita Hansungule, believes we need urgent intervention.

"The first group of children we should be focusing on are those who are quite young and still living with their families and communities where early prevention methods can be provided," Hansungule told News24.

"The Children's Act provides for many such services. We need to go into communities and assess what issues children are facing and what interventions they need, so that we can keep them away from crime.

"The second group of children are those who have already committed crimes and are already in the system. A number of services and therapies can be provided to them in order to rehabilitate them and reintegrate them. Because we're dealing with children, there is good potential for rehabilitation. The numbers are, however, quite concerning."

Hansungule added that the environment children grow up in is key to their future.

"We need to look deeper and ask what is happening in children's lives," she told Radio 702.

"Children don't just wake up today and say I'm going to commit a murder. A lot of violent behaviour can be attributed to what children are exposed to, their environment they grow up in."

"Children could be exposed to violence, gang violence, drug abuse - all of those affect how a child responds."