Cape Times fails to protect children

It is unfortunate that Cape Times acted negligently by indirectly identifying children involved in its article on child abuse – with one child being the victim.

The article, for which Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a MAD[1] is titled, “Sex-trafficking aunt loses court appeal” (04/11/2022) and reports about an aunt who trafficked her underage niece for sexual purposes and was convicted for the crime. According to the article, the niece was 15-years-old at the time of the crime. Details are given in the article including how the woman trafficked the child who ended up being sexually abused by the woman’s “husband” and held against her will.

Unfortunately in the article, the journalist names the aunt thereby identifying her niece and her children who are also mentioned in the article. This action puts the minors that are linked to the aunt at risk of potential harm which includes victimisation and retribution.

Further, by indirectly identifying the child victim, the journalist flouted Section 154 (3)[2] of the Criminal Procedure Act which advises against identifying, directly or otherwise, child victims, witnesses or suspects to crime.

While reporting stories where children are especially victims or witnesses to abuse or crime, the media should always protect the children’s safety in addition to protecting their rights to dignity and privacy. This will ensure the safeguarding of those children’s best interests which are enshrined in Section 28(2) of the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution.[3]

MMA urges Cape Times to pay special attention to how the publication reports on children. The children should always be sufficiently protected in media coverage. We look forward to reading more ethically reported articles about children in the future.

Written by Kgothatso Baatile Mohale and Lister Namumba

[1] [3] MADs are given to journalists who have irresponsibly reported on children and compromised their rights and welfare


[3] [4]