Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu has urged people to open cases of statutory rape against those who sleep with and impregnate under-aged girls.
She was speaking during the launch of Child Protection Week at Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.
This year, the focus will be on teenage pregnancy, which saw a spike during COVID-19 in 2021.
National Child Protection Week is observed in South Africa annually to raise awareness about the rights of children as articulated in the Children’s Act of 2005.
The small rural town of Lusikisiki has been identified as one of the hotspots for teenage pregnancy, with 671 cases reported over the last two years of girls between the ages of 10 to 14 falling pregnant.
Bogopane-Zulu says communities must play an active role in protecting children.
“We are slow both as government and NPOs, community and traditional leaders to open statutory rape cases, even though the law says if a child has sex below 16, that’s statutory rape. For some strange reason, we find it difficult to charge people. It’s time we need to get serious about protecting children.”
Meanwhile, civil society organisation Women and Men Against Child Abuse says as Child Protection Week kicks off, government’s strategy must become more inclusive to help abused children.
South Africa has high rates of abuse of women and children compared to many other countries.
The organisation’s spokesperson Ngaa Murombedzi has said that it is baffling that a pregnant ten-year-old would be classified under teen pregnancy.
Ngaa Murombedzi shares more in the interview below:
-Additional reporting by SABC News