352 child murders in ninety days are 352 too many

UNICEF South Africa is appalled by the consistently high number of child murders, with at least three children killed each day.

24 February 2022
UNICEF South Africa/2021/Sobekwa

Statement by UNICEF South Africa Representative, Christine Muhigana

PRETORIA, 24 February 2022 – “The lives of 352 children were violently cut short between October and December 2021, according to the latest statistics released by the South African Police Service. That’s nearly four children killed each day.

Such shocking numbers of child murders have tragically become a norm in South African society. 

These statistics do not even tell the full story. Another 394 children survived attempted murder and 2,048 children were victims of physical assault. Each child must now recover from their physical injuries and cope with the mental trauma they suffered as a result.

The number of murders astonishingly reveal an actual decrease of 5.6% on the same period in 2020 but attempted murders jumped 30%.

We are in an urgent race to save child lives. We cannot and should not accept such high levels of child murders every day.

UNICEF South Africa is committed to scaling up prevention and early intervention services, working with the Department of Social Development (DSD) and other partners. We welcome the Government’s commitment to allocate additional financial resources for such services, as well as to better integrate the case management system to justice services, so that perpetrators are quickly held to account.

Providing families with the skills needed to better cope with, to manage and overcome stresses that can lead to violence is also critical. This includes socio-economic packages and skills building to tackle poverty and unemployment, as well as access to psychological support services. The training of teachers, child and youth care workers and other social service professionals in psychosocial support will help them identify concerns among children before they escalate, while UN support to strengthen Thuthuzela Care Centers will improve specialized services for survivors.

UNICEF is also working with the Government, private sector, academia and civil society to establish a ‘social compact’ that will provide a holistic and broad ranging response to prevent and reduce levels of violence against children. We welcome the DSD’s call to action with all partners on this matter.

Children should feel safe at home and in all public spaces. But it is in these places that most violence against children happens – often at the hands of the people they interact with every day.

Children cannot live their lives in fear, they have the right to be safe, cared for and nurtured at all times.”

Media contacts

Toby Fricker
Chief of Communication & Partnerships
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 61 418 7486


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in over 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special efforts on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children everywhere.

Working with a range of partners, UNICEF has had a presence in South Africa since the end of apartheid and continues to work towards bettering the lives of all children in the country.

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