WHILE gospel musician Sechaba Pali, 32, has been spared five years in jail after he was found guilty of having sex with an underage girl, the court’s decision to wholly suspend the sentence in no way suggests the crime wasn’t so bad.
And that the 14-year-old victim might have willingly slept with the married star doesn’t trivialise the matter either.
That one in every three youths in the Free State, according to a recent study, has had sex before the age of 16 does not in any way make under-age sex acceptable too.
For far too long, immoral adults who get intimate with and at times impregnate minor children, like the shameless Pali did, have had it easy.
Seldom do such sexual perverts get their day in court.
And in most cases the molestation remains under the carpet because impressionable children would have “consented” to it.
While indeed anyone having sex at any age should be making a free and informed choice, it is illegal to sleep with under-age girls – or boys – even if they are not coerced into doing it.
At 32, Pali is not only an adult but also a celebrity who should not be hurting the children and parents he’s so gifted at entertaining as a musician.
In our contemporary society children are predominantly understood as innocent.
They are generally constructed as lacking adult skills, knowledge and competencies such as intellectual reasoning or life experience.
Children are seen as having no sexual desires, knowledge or experiences.
It’s that immaturity and naivety that makes children vulnerable and generates a need for adult protection.
The irony is not lost on us that the court suspended Pali’s sentence partly on the pretext that he was a responsible father who deserved a chance to fend for his 10 children, including the one he sired with the underage girl.
We hope the musician’s own children will not be the next victims of their father’s sexual indiscretions.
Or any other minor girl child who might find herself at the mercy of this sex predator who has clearly not hesitated to use his lofty social standing for ill.
Instead of preying on minors, Pali is better off using his prominent status to help in the fight against the scourges of rape and HIV and Aids that are ravaging our country.
Now, with the protectors increasingly becoming the predators all parents ought to push the game higher, even if South Africa boasts competent courts that can deal with lawbreakers like the Free State-born musician.
The reality is that the law alone cannot protect vulnerable under-age children from the sexual depravity of Pali and his ilk.
Parents must teach their children about sex so that the young ones can make wise decisions and at the right time when it comes to sex.
We must not forget that whether they are minor or not, children can still consent to sex with adults.
And in most cases parents never get to know about it.
So the best option is for parents and guardians to talk about sex with their children, especially these days when South Africa and the world are battling the increasing sexualisation of pre-adolescent girls.