n HTS : Theological Studies - Child killings in the Western Cape - research

Volume 75 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0259-9422
  • E-ISSN: 2072-8050



In the light of requests from certain civil organisations in the Western Cape (WC) (South Africa) to the provincial government to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into child killings in this province because of the high incidence of killings, a research committee from three WC universities was put together to review existing research into this matter to determine a way forward. This committee looked at primary drivers of child murders in the WC, gaps in existing government services, the potential value of instigating a commission of inquiry or some other mechanism, and recommending a way forward. A summary of its findings was presented to, among others, the provincial cabinet that adopted all its recommendations. Reflection on these final findings and recommendations forms the first part of the article. The second part focuses in more detail on the research data presented (and provided) by experts and practitioners who informed the research committee. Important aspects discussed here are child death reviews, age- and sex-specific rates of child homicides, sexual killings of children, the possible influence of unfortunate, traumatic childhood experiences in becoming a violent adult, physical violence against children (and women), children’s perception of their safety and risk factors for children specifically in the WC. The purpose of this article is to provide well-researched information to role-players and decision-makers regarding the lives of children to address the violence and its causes that so many children (and women) are exposed to. Although the focus is on the dire situation in the WC, the broader South African and international contexts will also be brought into play in the second part of the article in a way that will (hopefully) be helpful with regard to the crises and challenges the WC is struggling with in this respect.

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