December 2, 2013 R. Drew Smith

Violence Against Children in South Africa

A POST COMPOSED BY:

Itumeleng Mothoagae, Voice and Voicelessness Project, University of South Africa
and
Cobus van Wyngaard, University of South Africa

If we do not speak, the rocks will cry out – On continuing violence against children and the vulnerable in society

Recent media reports about the mutilation, rape and brutal destruction of children’s bodies compel us to break our silence and to seek to stand where God stands, namely, against injustice and the denial of life for our children. We recognize that we, our society and Christian communities have become paralyzed by the scale of violence against children and the fact that places which should provide community protection and life have failed our children: homes, schools and communities have too often contributed to fear among children, parents and family.

As South African citizens, we struggled for a South Africa that creates space for its citizens and children to have life in full. We struggled and fought for communities that take responsibility and accountability to enhance the lives of our children and the vulnerable. We struggled and fought for a future where our children will be safe to walk the streets and where our children are protected and defended so that they may flourish in community and reach their full potential..

In 1994 we thought we won against these events against the vulnerable in our society. Recently, we have been rudely awakened by these shocking events to see that we have not achieved the objectives of our struggle. Our failure to build a society where this struggle has been realized raises many difficult questions

Why do we continue to deny life for our children? Why does violence continue to manifest itself against the most vulnerable in society? What does it mean to be a citizen, and to live in community, when faced with the horrors of children being raped? Have we forgotten that the life of children is inherently tied up with the life of the community, and the life of society as a whole? Is it possible for this nation to break the cycle of violence?

As parents we find ourselves fearing for the lives of our children. We constantly wonder whether our children are safe and protected. We find ourselves distrusting the communities in which we live, including communities of faith, the government and police. We even find ourselves distrusting our own families and relatives.

We therefore call on all people of conscience to get back to trenches and fight against this scourge of society. Including the church and its leadership to lead the struggle against murder, rape, abuse, mutilation and destruction of bodies, because we have been failed by those we have elected to shape the society. What we are addressing as communities of faith believing in a God of justice and love.

We struggle in hope for as more humane South Africa and for safety of our children and the vulnerable in our society.

Statement endorsed by the following: Prof Takatso Mofokeng, Prof Mokgethi Motlhabi, Prof Itumeleng Mosala, Prof Willem Saayman, Prof NJ Kritzinger –Theologians committed to Peace and Justice (UNISA)

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