Address by Northern Cape MEC for Social Development, Alvin Botes, on the occasion of the launch of Child Protection Week, Kimberley
25 May 2010
Me Pat Mqina, Isibindi Mentor, National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers (NACCW)
Ms Valerie Matthews, Senior Manager, Social Welfare Services
Mr HM Mooketsi, acting Head of Department
Our community volunteers
Ladies and gentlemen
South African has a proud history of struggle. In that proud history of struggle, children have been used by the apartheid state as targets for maiming and practice shooting.
When we speak about the fact that the children are the future, we should simultaneously reflect on the many martyrs of children, born out of the struggle for righteousness.
In September 1984, a nation-wide campaign of protest and resistance to apartheid institutions was triggered. That campaign continues in various forms to this day despite a continuous state of emergency in South Africa since 1985. It became evident soon after the start of the uprising that the police and army were directing their considerable legal and extra-legal powers at the black children in both urban and rural areas.
Between 1984 and 1986:
- 312 children had been killed by the police, mostly in township confrontations
- over 1 000 children had been wounded
- an estimated 11 000 children, or 40 percent of all detainees had been detained under emergency laws or emergency regulations, provisions which deny a legal right of access to parents and lawyers
- 18 000 children had been arrested and held awaiting trial in police cells for alleged offences connected to what the South African government calls "the unrest".
Lest we forget
In doing so, we should remember that many of the most prominent martyrs were children; I am reminded by our own little Tommy Morebudi, who was moaned down by the apartheid police at age nine years, during the 1985 Galeshewe Student Organisation (GASO) Galeshewe Youth Organisation (GAYO) and uprisings and Hector Peterson of the Soweto uprisings were aged just 13 years.
Lest we forget
Today is also Africa Day.
What makes us African people is the concept of Ubuntu, where your child is my child. This has been the case for many years in our province and in South Africa at large.
But things have change.
Today our elders sexually violates our children; parents generally is negligent, not concern about their children overall development. For example, we set up school governing bodies (SGBs), which serve as organs of people's power, where parents should play a pivotal role in steering the governance ship for our schools. The majority of parents who actually participates are not the Black majority.
We convene schools sport days, where children has an opportunity to showcase their much honed skills to their parents, again, the majority of parents who actually turn up is not the black majority.
It cannot be that in theory we crystallised the concept of Ubuntu, but in practice we fail dismally. We're calling on particular the black parent to wake up and take common responsibility to bring up our children, lest we be known as communities where the black child is no safer than the child soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Today is also a day after we have just launched what could be comprehensive response to the province poverty challenges, the Balelapa campaign.
There are obviously a lot of positive programs and activities happening during this period and with this comes other challenges as well. As we all know positivity has the potential to breed negativity that is why as a department we are calling for total vigilance around this period.
This clarion call also goes out to our social partners to be on guard as we are trying to protect our most precious jewels here, our children. As we speak, professionals are gathered in Cape Town doing research on ways to combat human trafficking, we must all be vigilant.
The national theme for the child protection week is "Caring Communities Protect Children". The theme has been adopted by the National Child Protection Committee (NCPC) in 2005 for a five year period. Today is the launch of the program which runs from 26 May to 1 June 2010.
After the democratic government came into being in 1994, South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and committed itself to implementing the principle of "First Call for Children". It is for this reason that the Department of Social Development together with stakeholder departments developed the new Children's Act 38 of 2005 as amended.
The Children's Act, No 38 of 2005 as amended stipulates that designated child protection services include prevention services. It is acknowledged that social services as a component is not adequate to address the issue of child abuse, neglect and exploitation effectively and therefore the response to these challenges, requires a multi-sectoral approach, partnerships between government and civil society and cooperation between all spheres of duty bearers.
Increasing challenges facing children are:
- Child abuse and exploitation
- Loss of support systems within families
- HIV and AIDS pandemic and its impact on children resulting to child headed households.
It is for this reason, that we as a Department of Social Development are continually committing ourselves to expand the support initiatives of volunteers.
The role of volunteers in providing support services to vulnerable children and families in the community cannot be over emphasised. Currently there is a shortage of social workers in the province and therefore the volunteers provide much needed services.
The department is also aware that the volunteers are the "eyes and ears" of the community. They live in the community are aware of all the needs and challenges and therefore they are a vital resource.
These community based care workers identify the families at risk in the community, they plan, develop and render support services to these families and make use of other services where they cannot render services themselves.
It is important to utilise the capacity in the community and to build that capacity. We know that you sometimes feel that your role is not being recognised but today the department would like to thank you for your contribution in protecting children because you are truly doing justice to the theme of Child Protection Week by caring enough to protect children.
We also ask you to continue this struggle with us to ensure a better life for all. "Together we can do more".
There is only 16 days to go before the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.
As we prepare for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the support of volunteers is important at public viewing areas (PVAs), in the community with the implementation of holiday programs, raising awareness on human trafficking and linking vulnerable families to resources.
The priceless gain from this world cup is nation building. The expressions of national solidarity and pride, the promotion of our national symbols and other activities related to the world cup are providing an opportunity for unity.
We are giving meaning to our Constitution and the Freedom Charter adopted in 1955, which says South Africa belongs to all who live in it. We are laying the foundation for a future in which all will pay allegiance to the Constitution, the national flag and all symbols that define who we are. That is the legacy we want to bequeath to our children.
We want our children to grow up with that kind patriotism and pride. We also want this tournament to generate enthusiasm for sports amongst children. The future Bafana Bafana squad will hopefully emerge from our primary schools this year, from children who will be inspired by the soccer world cup.
Of particular concern is that the extended closure of schools for the mid-term vacation during the world cup will leave large numbers of children largely without fulltime supervision. Not all parents and caregivers will be able to align their vacation with that of the extended school vacation.
We urge parents to take extra care and ensure that their children are supervised and provided with guidance at all times. Children wandering alone in shopping malls and football stadiums will be vulnerable to people with evil intentions.
It is estimated that 600 000 to 800 000 people are trafficked annually. They are lured by offers of employment, education or a better life and end up in foreign countries in bondage. Approximately 80 percent of victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minor children.
The 2009 United Nations global report on trafficking in persons indicates that 79 percent of victims of human trafficking end up being victims of sexual exploitation. Another 18 percent are subject to forced labour.
The Children's Act makes it a crime to traffic children. The Children's Act introduces better reporting mechanisms for child abuse, neglect and exploitation of children. It is also innovative in the sense that it addresses the plight of child headed households.
As you all know, families are the corner stone of our community and primarily responsible for the care and protection of children. It is for this reason that the Children's Act promotes the preservation and strengthening of families so as to give effect to the constitutional rights and obligation towards children, specifically family care, parental care or appropriate alternative care.
This is the kind of community spirit that we want to revive in our society through the Children's Act, a community in which children can be allowed to enjoy their childhood. This is what Child Protection Week campaign is all about. Nothing short of a community wide commitment and participation to caring for our children will suffice.
We must all work together to ensure that 2010 FIFA World Cup leaves behind a long lasting and positive legacy for our children and future generations. We must remember the tournament with joy and excitement, and not with pain due to women and children who go missing due to this horrendous practice of human trafficking.
The Afrikaner Poet, Ingrid Jonker, died in 1965 at the young age of 32.
Consumed by dark foreboding and overwhelmed by despair, she committed suicide as her creative intellect was coming to its ripening. By her death, she joined herself to the children of our country about whom she had written. Her tragic passing was as powerful as an indictment of the apartheid system, these were the verses she has left us, and I quote:
"The child is not dead
The child lifts his fists against his mother
Who shouts Afrika! Shouts the breath
Of freedom and the veld
In the locations of the cordoned heart.
The child is not dead
Not at Langa nor at Nyanga
Nor at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
Nor at the police post at Philippi
Where he lies with a bullet through his brain.
The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers
On guard with their rifles, Saracens and batons
The child is present at all assemblies and law giving
The child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
This child who wanted only to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
The child is grown to a man and treks on through all Africa
The child grown into a giant journey over the whole world".
Let us pledge here today, jointly, that the child has a future, that the child is not dead. Lest we forget about the unjust society of the past, and the bright future our fore bears has laid out for us.
Working together, we can realise a better and a brighter future for our children.
Lest we be judged harshly by history
I thank you.
Issued by: Northern Cape Social Development
25 May 2010
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