Child protection knows no borders

Sunday, June 3, 2018

South Africa has reiterated its commitment to care not only for the children of its citizens but also the children from neighbouring countries, who are unaccompanied and without documentation.

“We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the fact that some of the children in our country are unaccompanied and undocumented,” said Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu on Sunday.

The Minister was addressing the closing ceremony of Child Protection Week in Ladybrand in the Free State. Local communities, including learners, came in their numbers to be part of the bigger movement aimed at building a better life for children. 

Shabangu said officials should use the laws of the country designed to protect children efficiently, especially in cases involving unaccompanied and undocumented children of foreign nationality.

“It should be kept in mind that once children cross the borders of a country they were born in without proper documentation, they become vulnerable.

“Such children may be exposed to various forms of exploitation, including physical and sexual abuse, kidnapping, child trafficking and child labour.

“Undocumented children often make it difficult for government to provide them with comprehensive social services including basic education, food, clothing, Child Support Grant and Social Relief of Distress,” the Minister.

Shabangu launched the Child Protection Week campaign last week in Pretoria to highlight to communities the value their children.

On Sunday, Shabangu appealed to delegates from the government of Lesotho, which is landlocked in South Africa, to work hand in hand with the South African government to protect children.

Major General TN Mathonsi of the South African Police Service reaffirmed their commitment to protect children. “It is our duty to protect our children. People should demand answers if they are not getting help from the police.”

Strategic efforts to protect children and women 

In 2010, Cabinet established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Violence against Women and Children (VAWC).

The IMC is a multi-sectoral approach to the fight against the abuse of women and children and it is led by the Department of Social Development. Its aim is to help reduce incidents of VAWC through workable and sustainable solutions.

Social Development set up the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre, a 24-hour call centre dedicated to providing support and counselling to people affected by gender-based violence and abuse. The toll-free call centre can be found on 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV).

World Vision representative Ernest Fraser called on communities to work with government to protect children.

“It’s upon all of us to ensure that our children are protected. We request communities to be vigilant at all the times,” he said.

Commemorating Madiba 

The 2018 CPW commemoration marked a major milestone in the history of child protection in the country, as it coincides with the centenary celebration of the life of the liberation struggle icon, Nelson Mandela. 

Madiba had tremendous love for children, particularly their care, protection and development, as he believed that a nation that takes care of its flourishes.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa specifically states that every child has the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation.

The Children’s Act brings South African child law in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the South African Constitution. The act adopts a developmental approach that emphasises the State’s role in the provision of social services to strengthen the capacity of families and communities to care for and protect children.

The closing of Child Protection Week ended with stakeholders in the care of children signing a pledge committing to the continued protection of children. 

The 2018 CPW also paid tribute to the centenary of one of the great daughters of the African soil, Mama Albertina Sisulu, who dedicated her life to fight for the emancipation of women and the liberation of South Africa. -