Child abuse and sexual abuse of children should be dealt with harshly in South Africa.

This was the clear message during the official launch of Women and Men’s Athletes Against Child Abuse (WMACA) in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Organisers say child abuse is rampant in sport at various clubs and schools across the country.

Children love playing sport and their lives wind up being controlled and manipulated by coaches in different sporting codes.

According to many observers, coaches end up abusing the relationship and trust children place in them.

Touching randomly happens in most sporting codes like swimming and gymnastics, but coaches end up overdoing it.

The conviction of former tennis star, Bob Hewitt, and the Parktown Boys High School assistant water polo coach, Collan Rex, underline the fact that child abuse in sport is rampant.

WMACA’s Head of Advocacy, Luke Lamprecht says: “Women and men against child abuse started a new division called Athletes Against Child Abuse because we recognise that sport poses particular risks for abuse and that young people are at risk of abuse particularly by coaches. The reason for that is that coaches often choose jobs that gives them access to children to abuse them. So, we are primarily focused on sport. We also want to highlight the fact that there are no necessary systems in place  to investigate and manage when there are allegations of abuse in sport.”

Olivia Jasriel is one of the girls who was abused by former international tennis star, Bob Hewitt, decades ago.

She reported the abuse in 2011, but Hewitt was only convicted in 2015 after four long years in the courts.

Jasriel who fought for the truth for almost 40 years, has sacrificed her entire life to expose and fight child abuse:

“We are here for you and we are committed to helping you. For many years one of my personal goals was to ensure that there is no parole for sexual offenders. The WMACA is committed to fight for victims. I have made a commitment to myself and to every child athlete to do this. I know it’s going to be a difficult journey, and i’am not going to take this challenge lightly.”