Public art festival highlights crimes against children

Lucia Bester from Ottery with Laeeqah Samuels, Natheefa Adams, Gloria Wyngaard, and Esmerelda with her daughter Christina, 8, all from Retreat. With them are Michelle America, Shannon Philander and Crystal Scott, from Grassy Park.

The Cape Town Museum of Childhood in partnership with the Centre for Early Childhood Development, made a statement outside of the Company’s Garden on Thursday November 21 using news posters with headlines describing violence against children.

The statement was part of Infecting the City, a public art festival which took place all over the city last week.

Organisations from across the city, including early childhood development and community representatives, stood along Wale Street with news posters collected from poles in the streets.

Some of the posters read: “Bontas worst child rape”; Toddler rescued from tikhuis’; and “Scum shoot 9 month baby”.

Chanel Fredericks, the outreach programme manager at The Cape Town Museum of Childhood, said the collection of posters was to put the problem in peoples’ faces and urge them to think about what they can do to create a safe environment for the children of South Africa.

She said her colleague, Sarah Atmore, from Rondebosch, had collected the posters since December last year, and they decided to use the posters for the demonstration.

Ms Atmore said while she was driving one day, she saw a poster about an assault of a teen, which stuck with her.

“We see all these posters daily, but we never register what is going on. So I decided to jump out of the car and grab it, and I’ve been doing it ever since”

She said the intention was to put all the posters together and create a big exhibition to make people think about the trauma that children face daily, and also think of what needs to be done to change the situation.

She said up to now, she had collected over 150 posters, “and this is just a drop in the ocean of what goes on everyday”.

The director of the Centre for Early Childhood Development, Professor Eric Atmore, said they aimed to highlight what goes on in communities because after people drive away from the poster, they forget about it and have little time to reflect.

“This is to say that we must protect our young children and ensure their futures.”

He said the centre will launch an ongoing campaign to “eradicate” violence against children. Mouroodah Theunissen from Bonteheuwel came out to support the cause.

“We are here for the sake of our children and women, so that they can be protected and safe. We believe we should do more of these demonstrations in our communities, to show people we are serious about this.”

Ms Theunissen, who is a facilitator at Teletubbies Educare in Bonteheuwel, said the government also needs to give resources to ECDs, as it is the foundation of learning safety and education.

Yumna Allie, the chairperson of the Grassy Park ECD forum, said they supported the protection of young children, and would like the government to “pay more attention” to the ECDs.

“There are no laws to protect our children, and we feel helpless. At the end of the day, we are only the caregivers, but we receive children who come from trauma, or who are going through trauma. We are saying enough – our children should be protected.”

Jane Evans from the Bonteheuwel forum said it was very sad to see what the children go through in the communities.

“In Bonteheuwel, the gangsters shoot all the time and the children act out the violence in school. We try hard to educate them about these things but it’s so difficult.”

Letsema Kampona, from Rondebosch, is currently doing his Master’s degree at UCT on social policy.

“I came today to understand the outcry, and the problems faced by South African children. Its’ depressing to see the headlines – it shows the severity of the situation – and these are just the reported ones.”