South Africa's murdered children
A Pretoria family is one of thousands of South African families whose calls for police to investigate their children's murder have fallen on deaf ears.
The chilling revelations by the Mabuza family that police have "shut shop" on the investigation into the murder of their eight-year-old son Dida comes as the safety and security ministry this week admitted autopsies are not conducted on all South Africa's murdered children.
Dida, a Grade Three pupil at Boikgantsho Primary School, was found by his cousin and a neighbour hanging from a tree half naked with his school shirt pulled over his face in a field between Nellmapius and Mamelodi in January last year.
His killer, who sodomised him, had wrapped his school tie around his neck several times before stringing him up from a branch. His pants and shoes were never found.
Dida's aunt Theresa said that to this day police investigating his murder had never come back to them with information on the case.
"The police have shut shop on the investigation and are refusing to tell us anything. It is as though they do not care. To them it is just another murder," she said, adding that every time they contacted the investigator they were given "pathetic excuses".
Her calls were echoed this week by the family of murdered four-year-old Connie Ncube who claimed police did nothing to catch their daughter's killer until the media and community put pressure on them and began "asking awkward questions".
Agreeing with the Mabuza and Ncube families that police "were simply not interested in catching child killers", Democratic Alliance spokesperson Mike Waters said it was clear from replies to parliamentary questions the police "are not serious about pursuing child murderers".
Waters said that from the safety and security ministry's replies it was clear that of the 1 128 children murdered in the 2004/2005 financial year police failed to perform post-mortems on 203 bodies as no cause of death was ever established for these murders. "An autopsy is the starting point of any investigation and an almost absolute requirement for a successful prosecution.
"The reply therefore raises questions about how seriously child murderers are being pursued, if even the basics of an investigation are not being carried out," said Waters.
He said the fact that the cause of death for the 203 children was unknown suggested there had been virtually no investigation and, furthermore, it meant there was no forensic evidence available to base a prosecution on.
"It is therefore hardly surprising that in 352 of the cases, nobody was charged with the murder," he said.
What was even more chilling about the murders was the violence that had been used in the killings.
The ministry said of the 1 128 children murdered, 26 were kicked to death, 13 were burnt to death, and six were killed with a fist. Another six were killed with an axe. Boiling water, hammers and iron pipes were used to kill a further nine children, while 324 were shot and 287 stabbed.
According to parliamentary replies, 53 percent of those arrested for the murder were 21 years old or younger, showing, said Waters, that alarm bells should be ringing.
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