Govt, business urged to meet disabled employment targets

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pretoria - Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana has threatened to name and shame government departments and private companies which fail to achieve a two percent employment target of people with disabilities.

The minister said the country, in particular government - which was supposed to lead by example - was not doing well in achieving the target.

"Government has achieved 0.6 percent, which is not even [half the target]. The private sector is at 0.9 percent. We will have to talk with the departments to remind them of this target... We are currently working with the Equity Commission and Labour Department, and will use the name and shame barometer to ensure that people remain accountable," Xingwana said.

Addressing representatives from children's rights groups, United Nations agencies and stakeholders to review the implementation of key legislation that has been put in place to protect and promote the rights of children in South Africa, the minister noted that since the implementation of the Child Justice Act in April 2010, there has been a decrease in the number of children channeled through the criminal justice system.

"The average number of remand detainee children in Correctional Services facilities decreased from 500 in April 2010 to less than 300 in December 2010. Most of these 300 children were awaiting trial for serious and violent crimes."

One of the main objectives of the Child Justice Act (Act No 75 of 2008) is to establish a criminal justice system for children who are in conflict with the law or are accused of committing criminal offences. It further ensures that children's cases are managed in a rights-based approach and assists children to turn their lives around and become productive members of society. 

The act provides specific procedures to be applicable for children who have allegedly committed crimes. They will not be handled in terms of the normal criminal law. For instance, a preliminary inquiry will be done before the child's first court appearance, and should take place within 48 hours of arrest. 

Xingwana also commended the provision on the National Child Protection Register aimed at ensuring better management of child abuse cases, and ensuring that people who harm children are prevented from being able to work with children.

She stressed that there was a need by various spheres of government, including civil society, research institutions and development partners to engage more in order to realise the rights of all children.

"We will do our part to ensure that these engagements take place regularly and they guide our country on issues of the rights of the child," Xingwana said.

The Department's Director General, Nonhlanhla Mkhize, said they were in a process of reviewing policy initiatives, including the National Policy for the Advancement of Children's Rights and the National Plan of Action for children, amongst others. - BuaNews

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