Alarming rise in child rapes
02 September 2019 | Crime
On Friday the Namibian police issued an urgent warning to parents and guardians of minors to remain on high alert following a steep rise in reported cases of child rape observed between July and August.
Statistics shared by the police showed that between 11 and 31 July this year, nine cases of rape involving minors were reported to the police, out of a total of 23 rape cases opened.
Between 5 and 24 August, 17 cases of rape involving minor complainants were reported out of a total 34 rape cases lodged with the police. Over the period under review, 25 men were arrested on charges of rape involving minors.
Additionally, crime reports show that at least six additional cases of rape of minors were opened in those months outside of the period highlighted, involving four girls between the ages of seven and 11 years.
Moreover, two girls aged 16 and 17 reported they were raped, one on 6 July and another on 2 August.
Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi warned on Friday that an “upward trend” of child rape cases was seen between July and August, urging parents and guardians to “keep a watchful eye on our minor children”.
The data shows that between 11 and 18 July, five cases of rape of minors were reported, and seven suspects arrested.
Between 25 and 31 July, four cases of rape of minors were reported to the police, and a total of four suspects arrested.
Then, between 5 and 11 August, nine cases of rape of minors were lodged, and six persons arrested on rape charges.
Between 18 and 24 August, the police opened eight cases of rape involving minors, and “all suspects were arrested in these cases”. Kanguatjivi appealed to all to “be vigilant when looking after minors, as this will prevent their young children from becoming victims.”
Many of the minor complainants are below the age of 10.
One high-profile cases involved the accused Jeremiah van Wyk, 50, who pleaded guilty to a charge of rape at the beginning of August, and of kidnapping a five-year-old girl from outside her kindergarten.
A 16-year-old teenager was arrested at Omungwelume village on 19 July, after he was accused of raping a six-year-old child.
On 4 July, a 27-year-old man was arrested after he was accused of raping a seven-year-old child.
Two suspects were arrested at the beginning of July on charges of rape on multiple occasions of an eight-year-old girl between May and June this year.
Another eight-year-old girl was the victim of alleged multiple rapes by her uncle between January and July this year.
Another family member, an uncle, was arrested at the start of August after he was accused of raping his 11-year-old niece.
At the start of July, a 24-year-old man was arrested in the Oshikoto region after he was accused of raping a 10-year-old girl.
Two men were arrested over the first weekend of July, on charges of raping a 13-year-girl after they allegedly kidnapped the child at knifepoint while she was playing outside with friends.
Concerns about the crisis of rape of minors in Namibia are not new.
Two years ago several experts warned that the rape of minors has become the norm in Namibia, exacerbated by a lack of public and political outcry around the issue and a lack of tackling the underlying issues, including social attitudes.
“Namibian society is silent about the issue of rape. We do not hold each other accountable and we do not speak out against such acts. Men also do not hold each other accountable and we have made it acceptable for men to sexually harass women,” Lifeline/Childline counsellors Charlemaine Husselmann and James Itana said in May 2017.
The Legal Assistance Centre's (LAC) Dianne Hubbard at the time said there is a worry “that the nation is no longer shocked about child sexual abuse” despite evidence it remains a “widespread problem that is not abating”.
LifeLine/ChildLine Namibia's social worker Bernadus Harageib added that “although some efforts are made to address this social ill, more can be done to protect children and prevent the high incidences of rape.”
In June 2017 Namibian Sun reported that according to police statistics, more than 3 800 rapes of children and adolescents were reported between 2003 and 2012.
Police statistics show that
3 656 rapes of female children and teenagers were reported between 2003 and 2012, and 207 of boys.
At the time, Namibian Sun reported that overall, the statistics show that close to 40% of rapes during those 10 years were of children, more than one-third of all rapes reported to police.
Moreover, experts warned that based on several reasons, many cases remain unreported.