THE GAUTENG DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT TALKS ABOUT SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR CHILDREN IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW DURING THE CHILD PROTECTION WEEK.

“In simple terms, criminal capacity is determined by whether a child is able to tell right from wrong and can also understand the consequences of their actions. Previously, it was documented that children under 10 years of age have no criminal capacity.” “The Act has since been amended in 2003 to apply to children under the age of 12 years. This means that a child who is under the age of 12 does not have criminal capacity and cannot be prosecuted,” said Langa.
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  • The Gauteng Department of Social Development is actively engaging the public on National Child Protection Week (CPW) to raise awareness about children’s rights as outlined in the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.
  • In a recent interview on Kasie FM, Social Worker Phumla Langa discussed issues such as the criminal capacity of children and the prevalence of crimes committed by minors, highlighting the importance of assessing and addressing the needs of children in conflict with the law.
  • The Gauteng Department of Social Development emphasised the critical role of parents and guardians in teaching children right from wrong and underscored the necessity of early intervention services for children at risk, stressing the collective responsibility to ensure children’s well-being and prevent future criminal behaviour.

 

By Phetoho Maja

The Gauteng Department of Social Development continues to hold public engagements to raise awareness on the rights of children as enshrined in the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

Child Protection Week is observed annually to mobilize all sectors and communities towards the perspective of putting children first.

During an interview on Kasie FM in Ekhuruleni. Phumla Langa, a Social Worker,  dissected issues related to criminal capacity and the prevalence of crimes perpetrated by children. She said, “Crime in South Africa is a societal problem as it destroys many lives. In brief, a crime is defined as an act that constitutes an offense and is punishable by law. When we say punishable by law, we mean that one can get arrested, charged, and prosecuted for the crime that they commit. Many people get involved in criminal activities, and this also includes children. Children who are in conflict with the law are also arrested and prosecuted.”

“The Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 is an act that ensures that each child that conflicts with the law is assessed in terms of their needs and circumstances before a decision is made on how to proceed with the case. The act protects children’s constitutional rights when they are in conflict with the law,” said Langa.

“A child is any person who is under the age of 18 years. This is defined by the South African Constitution. And yes, children do commit crimes, knowingly and unknowingly, and some children are prosecuted for these crimes. Some are not prosecuted due to a lack of criminal capacity.”

“In simple terms, criminal capacity is determined by whether a child is able to tell right from wrong and can also understand the consequences of their actions. Previously, it was documented that children under 10 years of age have no criminal capacity.” “The Act has since been amended in 2003 to apply to children under the age of 12 years. This means that a child who is under the age of 12 does not have criminal capacity and cannot be prosecuted,” said Langa.

She added, “A child who commits an offense while under the age of 12 years does not have criminal capacity and cannot be prosecuted for that offense but must be dealt with in terms of Section 9. The police official must immediately hand over the child to their parent or guardian and inform the probation officer within 24 hours upon apprehending the child.”

“An assessment of the child will then be conducted by a Social Worker within 7 days of the notification. The Social Worker will make the necessary recommendation for the child to be helped in such a way that they do not become repeat offenders,” she said. Such children are referred to the Department of Social Development, where Social Workers provide services such as counselling or therapy. Based on their reports, a child is then sent to an age-appropriate program that will address their needs. Langa further advised parents and/or guardians to take responsibility and teach children what is wrong and right.

“Children who are taught the necessary life skills from a young age tend to become good law-abiding citizens. Do not excuse immoral behaviour from a child at home, as this can lead to immoral behaviour in other areas of their lives. Parents must also understand that although their child may not be prosecuted through the court of law, they are now considered a child at risk and therefore should receive early intervention services from social development professionals,” Langa concluded.

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