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It could mean jail if you don’t report the suspicion of sexual abuse of a child

3 June 2024


You can be imprisoned for up to five years if you don’t report your suspicions that a child might be sexually abused, to the police.


You don’t have to be directly involved or have evidence, and can report anonymously if the circumstances allow and you don’t have to be called as a witness.


“There is no room for you to use your discretion. There are three legislations at play compelling you to report to the South African Police Service (SAPS), irrespective whether you think the children are too young or there might not be a case. It is up to the police to investigate all allegations,” says Adv Salome Scheepers.


Scheepers, Senior State Advocate at the Sexual Offence and Community Affairs Unit (#SOCA) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), tasked as Portfolio Manager for domestic violence, addressed

MISA, the Motor Industry Staff Association, on its third webinar educating the Union’s more than 65 000 members during Child Protection Week.


This year’s theme is “every conversation matters”. MISA designed the webinar series to educate members on subjects they frequently seek advice about.


Scheepers addressed the consequences people face if they don’t adhere to the mandatory reporting of abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence or sexual assault of children.


Failure to adhere to legislation is punishable with between three to five years imprisonment, depending on the abuse that is not reported.


Scheepers referred to the case of Poppie Koekemoer who was only three years old when she died in October 2016, in Brits. She had been abused for eight months by her mother and stepfather.


“In her case the Judge ruled that everyone involved had to be investigated for their failure to report the abuse to the police.”


According to Scheepers the Constitution protects the rights of children, but the reality is that the majority of children suffer abuse from those responsible to care for them in their own homes.


“Child abuse is not just a social ill, it is a pervasive crisis that affects the very foundation of our communities, families, and most importantly, our children.


“It is our collective responsibility to act, to intervene, and to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children represent the future. They are our hope, our potential, and our tomorrow.


“When a child is abused, it is not just their present that is shattered, their future is also jeopardized. By reporting child abuse, we take the first crucial step in breaking this cycle, offering victims a chance to heal and lead healthy, productive lives.


“Every report made is a step towards saving a child’s life, a step towards restoring their dignity, and a step toward building a future where every child can grow up safe, loved and free from harm,” says Scheepers.


Click on the link below to listen to the Webinar:


Issued by Sonja Carstens, Manager of MISA's Media & Communication Department, on behalf of the Union.

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