Premier Zille and NGOs Agree to University-led Research Project on Child Murders
Premier Helen Zille met with child protection NGOs on 20 September 2017 to discuss the possible way forward regarding child murders in the province. The meeting comes after an undertaking by Premier Zille to gather the organisations in search of lasting solutions.
In addition to child protection NGOs, the meeting also attended by the Chief Magistrate for the Cape Town District, Mr Daniel Thulare, representatives from University research units, and Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissen.
At the heart of the discussion was whether establishing a commission of inquiry into child killings would be the most effective way to address the problem.
There was consensus that extensive research had already been conducted by various bodies into violence against children. Much of the existing research points to perpetrators in child murder cases being known to the victims or trusted by the families. In some cases, harm was inflicted by parents and relatives. In the case of older child victims, gang violence was a common factor in murder cases.
As a result, the NGOs agreed to a proposal by Premier Zille that specialist units based at the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and the University of the Western Cape are well placed to collate and analyse the key findings of various research projects and list the unanswered questions, and determine whether these could be addressed through a commission of inquiry. The intention is for the Universities to work with NGOs wishing to give input, especially in their area of expertise.
The Universities will begin by submitting a research proposal for comment to the Premier, and also circulating it to specialist Child Protection NGOs.
Meanwhile the Western Cape Government continues to make calls for public submissions on the recently gazetted Bill for the appointment of a Commissioner for Children.
Provision is made for the appointment of a Commissioner for Children under section 78(1) of the Constitution of the Western Cape. The Commissioner is constitutionally mandated to assist the government in protecting the interests of children in the province in a range of areas including welfare services, education and health services, among others.
Members of the public can access the Bill here, and are encouraged to make their submissions to Ammaarah Kamish at Ammaarah.Kamish@westerncape.gov.za . People are also welcome to hand-deliver their submissions at: Ground floor, 4 Dorp Street, Cape Town. Comments must be submitted before the closing date – 31 October 2017.
While we are working hard within the law and our constitutional mandate, we maintain that no government can substitute for the role of committed families and communities in protecting children. In the end, a culture of active, responsible citizenship is indispensable to building a functional society that cares for its most vulnerable members.