Great caution should always be exercised when reporting on children involved in criminal proceedings to avoid victimisation and other harm and when the media employs this caution, they should be commended. It is for this reason that Media Monitoring (MMA) awards News24 a GLAD[1] for its article, “Boy (4) raped by mother and stepfatherin which the identity of the child involved is protected. The story was published on the 30th of September, 2021 and was also shared on the Daily Sun website.

The story by Lwandile Bhengu is about a 12-year-old boy who was raped and sexually abused by his mother and stepfather from when he was four years old until he turned eight. The story reports that the child’s mother and stepfather were arrested in 2017 and that this is an ongoing case. The story also includes details of the abuse.

The child, his mother and stepfather are not named in the article. Regarding this, the journalist writes, “The East Rand mother and her husband, who both cannot be named to protect the 12-year old’s identity…”

MMA commends News24 for protecting the identity of the child in the story. The journalist adhered to the Criminal Procedures Act by not naming the child and his parents. Section 154(3)[2] of the Act as ruled by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2018 states, “No person shall publish in any manner whatever any information which reveals the identity of an accused under the age of 18 years or of a witness or victim at criminal proceedings who is under the age of 18 years.”

Withholding the child’s identity is also in line with MMA’s Editorial Guidelines for Reporting on Children in the Media[3] which state, “Children involved in legal proceedings even need more protection and are at greater risk so make sure to always protect their identity.”

By not naming the child, the journalist protected him from further potential harm such as victimisation.

MMA hopes that News24 will continue to practice such good journalism when reporting on children.

Written by Girlie Sibanda

Edited by Lister Namumba

[1] A GLAD refers to an ethically reported article where the rights and welfare of children have been promoted.

[2] See Section 154 (3) of the criminal procedure Act 51 of 1997

[3] (Page 6)