“No help for abused kids” (Sunday World, 20/05/2012, p.6) receives a GLAD1 from Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) for protecting identities of two abused children who are also potential witnesses in an ongoing criminal investigation.
The article reports on two siblings, a boy and a girl aged four and two respectively, who are victims of physical and sexual abuse.
The journalist, Bongani Mdakane, relates how the mother of the two children has been struggling for justice for the violent crime against her children who were allegedly raped by her husband’s relative when they had visited him. The mother is accessed pointing out that her estranged husband of five years used to physically abuse the children for no apparent reason.
The children were both given pseudonyms as well as their separated parents to cover their identities. The photographer also took special care in protecting their identities by showing the mother and the two children sleeping face down on a bed – hiding their faces in the picture accompanying the story.
Most significantly, the journalist also went far as to state at the end of the article that the names were changed to protect the identities of the children. This in turn reinforces the protection of the children as they are both victims and witnesses to a crime as part of an ongoing police case which is reportedly being prolonged by police both in Gauteng and Free State.
The article took the opportunity to bring to attention flaws in the justice system by sourcing an expert from Childline who spoke about the possibility of dockets getting lost and taking time to reach the relevant investigators which ultimately delays the justice system.
MMA therefore commends Sunday World for upholding relevant children’s legislation including the Criminal Procedure Act, Section 154 (3) which states the importance of protecting child witnesses during criminal proceedings, and Section 28 (2) of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution by putting the best interests of children first as shown in the manner the story was written.
We hope that other media would follow the example set by Sunday World when reporting on children.
1. A Glad is a story deemed the best of the week from all large Johannesburg-based newspapers (excluding community).↩