Editor's note: Does naming criminals benefit us?

The play area at Dros in Silverton. Picture: Rudzani Matshili

The play area at Dros in Silverton. Picture: Rudzani Matshili

Published Oct 2, 2018


Today the man arrested in connection with the alleged rape of a young girl in the toilets of the Dros restaurant in Silverton, appears in court and we expect a huge group of protesters under the banner of #NotInMyName to gather near the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.

While we are absolutely appalled by the crime, but as argued by our High Court reporter Zelda Venter on the opposite page, we are not naming the man, despite it emerging on social media or a weekend newspaper's decision to do so.

In an interview with The Times, Tuks professor of sociology Christi van der Westhuizen says: “We need to ask whether naming and shaming someone, who might or might not be guilty of rape, will help us win the war against rape? The answer is no.

“By doing so we could be allowing ourselves to be distracted by debates about someone who is potentially the wrong person, instead of having debates on how to make places safer for women and children.”

The tragic reality, as William Bird of Media Monitoring has pointed out, is that according to police crime stats, on average 64 children a day are sexually assaulted in South Africa (reported cases SAPS 2017/18 figures). Many never make it into the news.

While shaming the alleged perpetrator - and everyone around him - may be understandable given our anger, Bird says we do need to ask what the consequences may be for those around him who have done nothing wrong.

And, how does it benefit us in understanding a gruesome crime like child rape or help us in future to protect its vulnerable victims?

* Val Boje is editor of the Pretoria News.

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