There are about 10 000 child prostitutes in Johannesburg alone, a group concerned with child abuse said on Wednesday.
Bloemfontein, meanwhile, is one of the biggest focal points of syndicates as far as trafficking in children for sex and drug trading are concerned.
A founding member of Sapsac, a body investigating child abuse, Retha Meintjes, who is also the deputy director of public prosecution, says even though similar figures are not available for other cities, all the available information indicates that the situation in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth are “equally grave”.
According to Sapsac, girls in South Africa are sold for between R2 500 and R12 000.
Countrywide networks of syndicates who are involved in child abuse include “prominent and wealthy” people, even some from the medical field.
Children as young as 10 “are recruited and sexually abused by adults who pay the syndicates”.
Children who work in Port Elizabeth as prostitutes and/or drug dealers, earn between R1 500 and R5 000 per day for the coffers of their “handlers”.
Sapsac said the children who disobeyed the syndicates’ instructions were punished with “extreme physical abuse, or by withholding drugs and food from them or even death”.
The group said it will make an urgent plea to the government to enforce effective measures to protect children, especially with a view to the huge international sporting events which will soon take place in South Africa.
530 child rapes in SA every day
Meanwhile the CEO of Solidarity’s Helping Hand, Danie Langner, said that thousands of South African children were victims of rape, abuse, countrywide child prostitution networks and even murder.
Every day about 530 children are raped in South Africa, and of these, only about 60 are reported.
Children are the victims in 45% of all rape cases in the country.
The report said 1 410 cases of child murder were reported between 2007 and 2008 in the country–22.4% up from the previous year.
“It must become known that of all the cases in which Childline becomes active, 43% involve the sexual abuse of children,” Langer said.
Louise Aucamp, a forensic social worker, said child crime rates in the middle-to-high income groups, where both parents are graduates and respected members of their community, have increased by a disturbing amount over the past two years.
During the course of Helping Hand’s research, many social workers and people who deal with child abuse on a daily basis were interviewed. A serious shortage of experts was identified.
Organisations like Child Care South Africa works with about two million children and their families on an annual basis. This means the average social worker must handle about 200 cases annually, while the accepted norm is 60.