Precious Mupenzi

  • Ms Nontobeko Vilakazi emphasised the government’s dedication to safeguarding children, highlighting substantial legislative and policy advancements while acknowledging the ongoing need for advocacy and awareness.
  • Vilakazi pointed out the persistent issues of child abuse, neglect, and violence. She stressed the importance of community responsibility and the need for comprehensive support services to address the overwhelming demand for psychosocial care.
  • The establishment of a new Ministry for Youth, Women, Children, People with Disabilities, and E-Government was announced, aimed at enhancing child protection efforts. Vilakazi called for unity and collective action to build a caring society, urging children to support one another and avoid risky behaviours.

The National Launch of Child Protection Week was held at the Mitta Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley, led by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, and Northern Cape MEC for Social Development, Ms Nontobeko Vilakazi. This year’s theme, “Protecting South African Children, 30 Years On,” underscores the nation’s enduring commitment to child protection.

In her address, Ms Vilakazi emphasised the significance of the event and the government’s unwavering dedication to safeguarding children.

“We have gathered here today because of our collective concern for our children,” Vilakazi stated. “As a caring, responsive, and inclusive government, we believe that ‘nothing about you without you’ should be at the heart of this gathering.”

Vilakazi acknowledged the continued need for advocacy despite substantial legislative and policy advancements. “It is sad that we still have to dedicate a specific time during the year to advocate for the rights and protection of children. The protection, love, and concern for our children should be an instinct, one we fiercely stand for.”

Despite the government’s best efforts, South Africa still faces high levels of violence and exploitation against children. Vilakazi noted that many families struggle to protect and care for their children. “With our outreach programmes, we regularly encounter horrendous cases of child abuse and neglect. More worrisome are the young girls who are either mothers or expecting children.”

Vilakazi highlighted the importance of raising awareness and educating communities about their responsibilities in child protection. “The demand for psychosocial services outweighs the supply capacity, indicative of a broken society and a degeneration of our moral fabric. Our social workers are overwhelmed because some people have abdicated their responsibilities, leaving the government to raise and protect their children.”

She also addressed issues within the justice system and schools, highlighting significant concerns about child safety.

“We have noted the high number of children in jail for serious offences and the issue of rapists being granted bail and reoffending. There are concerns about the safety of children in schools, where victims are removed while perpetrators remain in teaching positions. We are addressing these issues with the Department of Education and the justice system.”

Ms. Vilakazi reaffirmed the provincial government’s commitment to protecting children’s rights, announcing the establishment of a new Ministry for Youth, Women, Children, People with Disabilities, and E-Government. This ministry will complement and enhance the work of the Department of Social Development.

“The Northern Cape’s response to child neglect and abuse is comprehensive and unwavering,” Vilakazi stated. “We remain committed to strengthening partnerships with NGOs, community-based organisations, civil society, community leaders, and faith-based organisations to ensure the best interests of children.”

The Department has been actively conducting awareness campaigns and engaging with communities on child protection issues. “Over the last few weeks, we have crisscrossed the province advocating for the rights of the child. Where we find neglect, we act swiftly and decisively.”

In conclusion, Ms. Vilakazi urged children to speak out and support one another.

“I encourage children to be one another’s keepers, to stop bullying, and to uplift one another. Say no to drugs and alcohol loudly and clearly. To our young girls, be patient with things meant for later in life. Sex and children should come after you have established a career and are mature enough to manage both.”

She ended with a call for unity, “Take our hands, and together we can do more to build a caring society.”

The launch highlighted the Northern Cape’s commitment to child protection and set a powerful tone for the National Child Protection Week campaign.


Leave a reply