The Mayor of the Sekhukhune District Municipality, Mr Ramaila Keamotseng, has told the Portfolio Committee on Social Development that the South African society must pause, reflect and ensure that its children live free from violence. He said this during public hearings on the Children’s Amendment Bill that were concluded in Limpopo today.

“Society wages endless war against its children, parents inflict all sorts of abuse and kill their own children. People should not expect the government to play a leading role, this is much of a societal matter,” said Mr Keamotseng.

He said children must be protected from exploitative labour practices, and commended the committee and urged that it tightens the law. “That necessitates that we do things differently in ending child abuse,” he added. “Well, today they are children, but tomorrow they will be world leaders,” said Mr Keamotseng.

The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Mondli Gungubele, said a lot of issues were coming up around the state of children. “We thought a number of issues need amendments so that we could meet the challenges facing children in the country,” he said.

Among the issues that the Bill looks to address are parental responsibilities of unmarried fathers, forced marriages, migrant children with no documentation, and the child protection register.

Communities around Sekhukhune raised concerns around the rape of disabled children by relatives, lack of funding for ECD (Early Childhood Development) sector, challenges regarding registration of foreign children in public schools, child-headed families, and lack of Child and Youth Care Centres, with only one, which has 20 children capacity for the Sekhukhune District.

The committee heard that foreign kids struggled registering with birth dates in public schools as the Department of Basic Education system required an ID number, a challenge that is not there in private schools.

One of the participants, Ms Katlego Phala, highlighted the challenge of parents leaving children at drop-ins in January only to resurface at the end of the term. “Some of the children are grant recipients, they spend the grant money on themselves. Not a cent reaches the facility,” she said. She urged for more support for the ECD sector in rural provinces.

By Sibongile Maputi

10 June 2021