Ocean View talks about trauma

The Ocean View community are reeling after a weekend of violence.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the rape and murder of 14-year-old Cameron Britz, whose body was found by local children.

The Daily Voice reported the man is her cousin and had handed himself over to police.

He is due to appear in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on Friday July 17.

In other incidents, an 18-year-old girl was shot and a 17-year-old was buried; and this excludes two more reported rapes, and two murders, one of a young man who was stabbed to death in Masiphumelele and the other of a 30-year-old man who was killed in Ocean View.

“This kind of weekend trauma is not uncommon in Ocean View,” says Community Police Forum (CPF) spokesperson Kathy Cronje.

Ms Cronje runs the Safehouse, which is a place of safety for women and children who have suffered at the hands of a loved one through domestic violence.

She is at her wits’ end. Daily, she comes face to face with the vicious cycle of poverty, drugs, domestic abuse, addicted children, absent parents, desperate grandparents.

Last week, Ms Cronje hosted a talk as a small step against a tsunami of horror. “We will have these talks until people start listening. What else can we do, but try? What’s the other option?” she asks.

On that note, she is open to hearing as many ideas as possible. She is a firm believer that answers can be found, that all that is necessary is that they are shared. So she called on the expertise of Claudia Burger.

Ms Burger is programme director for Activists networking against the exploitation of children (Anex), a children’s rights NPO based at the Saartjie Baartman Centre in Athlone.

The aim of Anex is to combat all forms of exploitation of children, including child trafficking, child labour, commercial sexual exploitation of children and children used by adults to commit crime.

Anex works through prevention and early intervention programmes. Ms Burger has been a qualified social worker since December 1988. She advocates that parents have every right to take their children’s phones, iPads, laptops: any communication device – and check it thoroughly for content and threats/risk. “I can hear every teenager shouting that they have the right to privacy,” she says.

“But what they are missing, is that they often do not have the skills or experience to see if they are being groomed by online paedophiles or child traffickers – who work in much the same way as the paedophiles do, and are often not suspected,” she said.

There was a sharp intake of breath when she said that statistically, only 1% of children who are trafficked, ever make it out alive. Claudia delivered her talk to a Fish Hoek group of nearly 60 people. These adults, mostly older people, were concerned about loss of relationship with their children or grandchildren.

Claudia clearly drew the lines from social media; showing a relationship-damaged society. She stresses that children learn from people, and most relationships now are digital. This means children are less skilled at being able to read people or their intention, and form proper bonds. Add to this “busy” or absent parents, and the door is left wide open for a text relationship to fill those spaces. And that is the door that pedophiles and child traffickers pounce on. Using the phone/chat groups, the children are lured into trusting the person, and because children have not yet developed the capacity to see that they are being manipulated, they fall prey to the ploy. Some are raped, some are recruited into prostitution and drug dealing, some are trafficked.

So how do we protect our children, end domestic violence, usurp the need for drugs?

Ms Cronje says Ms Burger’s advice is simple and far reaching. By being present as parents or neighbours. By limiting social media, by checking phones for any illicitly sent or received material. By encouraging face to face friendships. By creating trust in our relationships with our children.

“Ask them questions. Listen to them.When they trust you, they will tell you what’s happening in their world. Then you have the ability to protect them better, advise them better. And take an interest in the people around you. If you suspect that somebody is paying inappropriate attention to a child – be the balance. Befriend the child yourself, make sure that there is somewhere that child can find safety,” she said.

“People have forgotten how to dream. Men are supposed to be the head of the family. When they are apathetic, or pathetic, it rolls right down. They want to feel a sense of power, and this opens the door to all manner of addictions: and from there, the cycle of abuse and domestic violence just spirals. Add poverty and you are back to not being able to dream – and it all starts again,” she says.