The homicide rate for children is showing some disturbing trends in South Africa
Around 1,000 children are murdered each year in South Africa, according to official figures.
Yet many more killed children don’t make the official numbers, as homicides are not investigated properly.
Wandi Zitho’s story
Wandi Zitho was five when he was strangled with a rope this April, allegedly by a neighbor in Johannesburg. He became another dead child, in a country where there are too many.
According to Professor Shanaaz Matthews, director of the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, in a 2013 paper, she found that South Africa had a child homicide rate of 5.5 per 100,000.
“And when we compared this to global averages we found that this was more than double the global average of child homicide rate of about 2.4 per 100,000,” she said.
Police statistics showed the numbers “have slightly increased” since, she added.
Tazne van Wyk’s case
Another young victim was Tazne van Wyk, an eight-year-old whose body was found this February, dumped in a drain near a Cape Town highway.
She had been abducted, raped and murdered, police said. The girl’s murder sparked a national outrage, with protesters calling for the death penalty and burning houses in the community.
Child killers are rarely convicted, said Matthews.
The neighbor originally charged with killing five-year-old Wandi Zitho was released and the case provisionally dropped because the police didn’t deliver enough evidence.
This may have been due to a backlog in analyzing forensic evidence, according to a police officer working on the case. The woman was arrested again and charged with murdering two other children months later.
“I want just to say anything to parents out there – to never trust anyone. Even whether it’s a family or a neighbor, never trust anyone,” said Wandi’s mother, Amanda Zitho.