Cape Town—The DA hung up thousands of pairs of children’s underwear in the Cape Town suburb of Nooitgedacht on Monday to draw attention to the rape of 22 486 children in South Africa last year.
“More than 55 000 cases of rape were reported—and 40% of these cases involved children,” DA leader Tony Leon said at the event, held to mark his party’s involvement in the national 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse campaign.
Extracts from his speech were sent to Sapa.
The 22 486 pairs of underwear were hung up “to represent the 22 486 rapes against girl babies, toddlers and children which were reported in 2004/05”.
Leon said 60% of all contact crimes in South Africa were committed against women, and on average one woman or child was raped every 10 minutes.
There were several things that could be done to make an immediate difference in halting such abuse, including allocating more resources for the country’s prevention, protection and prosecution units.
“We must immediately provide Child Protection Units, Social Development departments and Sexual Offences Courts with the staff and resources they need in order to do their jobs properly.
“The DA’s investigations have revealed that the average case load of detectives at Child Protection Units is 62 rather than the standard 18 cases.”
Leon said it was also vital to enact and enforce necessary legislation.
“The Sexual Offences Bill must be fast-tracked through Parliament as soon as possible.
“The lack of commitment shown by the justice minister to the tabling of this bill reveals the ANC government’s so-called commitment to the safety of women and children to be nothing but a transparent facade.
“Until the bill is enacted, and enforced, the right of abused women and children to justice will be compromised,” said Leon.
The items of underwear—donated by various clothing manufacturers—were taken away by members of the local community after the event.
Underwear thieves undermined an anti-rape event organised by South Africa’s Democratic Alliance on Monday.
The DA hung out 22,486 pairs of girl’s underwear, representing the annual number of child rapes, in Cape Town’s Bishop Lavis township.
The idea was to distribute the panties afterwards, but some members of the crowd rushed in and grabbed them before DA leader Tony Leon arrived.
The stunt was part of the annual 16 days of action against gender violence.
“The crowd jumped the gun because people were afraid that if they waited they would not get one,” Mr Leon told The Star newspaper afterwards.
“This just highlights the desperation of people there—they wanted to make sure they got some panties.”
Bishop Lavis is situated in Cape Town’s poor and crime-ridden Cape Flats region.
Throughout South Africa, 55,000 rapes are reported each year and many more go unreported.