This is according to Sonke Gender Justice’s State of South Africa’s Fathers Report.
The report stated that only 36% of children were raised in homes by both parents.
The organisation’s senior research specialist, Tawanda Makusha, said relationships between the child and non-biological father (male figures who could be uncles, grandfathers and the mother’s current boyfriend) often varied.
“Some relationships between children and social fathers are not healthy. These are usually those relationships where the social fathers are violent, abusive or uninvolved. These violent and abusive social fathers often negatively affect the development of children,” said Makusha.
He said sometimes biological fathers and non-biological fathers used corporal punishment to discipline the child.
“Lack of father involvement is linked to a wide range of detrimental effects, such as risk of problem behaviour and conduct disorders, stigmatisation, risky sexual behaviour - including early sexual debut - and substance abuse.”
However, children and women in households with one or more men might be more secure with respect to potential predatory behaviour of men from outside the household, he said.
Over the past year, the Cape Argus reported on several child murder cases where the mother’s partner was convicted.
In many of the judgments heard in the Western Cape High Court, judges commented on the trust factor. Last month, Xolani Lantu was sentenced to three life terms for the murder and two rapes of 5-year-old Minentle Lekhata, his partner’s grandchild.
He admitted to killing Minentle to spite her grandmother.
Presiding judge Derek Wille said: “A 5-year-old considered the accused as her ‘chomie’ (friend). She trusted this man and he takes her away, brutally rapes her twice and chokes her to death.”
Another man, Pieter van Tonder, has to serve at least 25 years for the murder of 18-month-old Asheeqah Scott, his partner’s daughter. He beat the child to death.
Meanwhile, Zukile Nakupi from Philippi is serving a 14-year sentence for bashing his seven-month-old stepdaughter, Inganathi Mnyani, to death.
Makusha said: “Generally we have high rates of rape convictions of men due to rape of children and women. This is not specific to social fathers, but to men in general, including some biological fathers.”
Saartjie Baartman Centre for Abused Women and Children’s director Bernadine Bachar said: “The Centre has noticed an increase in violence against children by stepfathers or their mothers’ partners.”