On the 6th of February, news broke of the murder of Thato Radebe, a 14 year old girl whose body was found in a veld in Emndeni, Soweto. During that week, a number of accounts and follow-up stories on child murders made headline news. These included the follow up stories on the escape of Sgidi Gasela who was arrested in the heist that left baby Nkhensane Mitileni dead after he was shot while strapped on her mother’s back; the trial of convicted sex predator John Peter Putter, who is charged for indecent assault of four school girls; the murder of Michaela Garoenisha Ganchi whose body was found not far from her home in Eldorado Park in 2005. There have been other stories of children being victims of crime reported since the beginning of the year, but the above-mentioned received prominent coverage.

The MMA would like to commend the media, especially The Star (31st January and 6th February 2007 editions). On these days, the paper carried follow up articles on the mothers of Nkhensane and Thato. On 31 January, The Star carried an article with the headline “Baby Nkhensani’s mom left in the dark”. The article focused on the fact that the police did not inform the mother about the latest developments of the case. She also highlighted how she misses her child and even blames herself for taking him to town on the day of the tragic incident. While the article on the 6th of February, with the headline “He really hurt my daughter – why did he have to kill her?”, focused on the pain and hurt of Thato’s mother after she lost her child.

These two examples give the reader a different perspective to the reports based on the event itself. The articles give a “face” to the incidents and as a result, the readers get to understand the issues on how crime affects people. Through monitoring, the MMA has realised the importance of follow up articles in providing more in depth analysis and context, not only on crime, but also on different topics and issues making headline news

These articles form part of the prominent crime coverage in the past weeks, which the MMA explored in an article entitled Crime and the media.