Parliament, Friday, 12 November 2021 – The residents of Chris Hani District Municipality supported the Children Amendment Bill during the public hearings that were attended by people who included traditional leaders, associations of unmarried fathers, preschools and unions of early childhood development centres.

The representatives of the different associations and individuals who participated in the public hearings that took place in Queenstown’s Indoor Sport Centre, called for adequate funding of ECD centres especially in the historically disadvantaged communities of the Chris Hani District Municipality. They also called for local municipalities to fulfil their role in the provision of ECD infrastructure and basic services such as water and sanitation.

On the protection of the rights of unmarried fathers, some participants expressed a view that the father’s side of the family should have primary responsibility of raising the child to ensure that the child is socialised according to the customary practices and rituals of their paternal families. Others called for free paternity tests as required by the Department of Home Affairs when unmarried fathers want to apply for birth certificates of their children.

The residents also called for the government at all spheres to prioritise children with special needs. They told the committee that children with autism are ignored by the government. Furthermore, they said there are very few schools for children with special needs that are very expensive, and have long waiting lists that result in these children being denied access to these schools.

Participants also called for screening before adoption and that foster care should not only be a requirement for prospective parents, but should also be extended to other family members. They also raised concerns regarding the proposed amendment that a child may not be in temporary care for more than 72 hours without a court order. They argued that this does not take into consideration instances where cases are reported during a long weekend, which makes it difficult to adhere to that 72 hours principle.

Supporting the Bill, the participants thanked the committee for creating an opportunity for them to participate in the law-making process especially for children who they said are the future of any nation. They appealed to government departments such as the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform to play their role in their communities to push back the frontiers of poverty. They said there can be a good Children’s Act, but also there should be nutritious food to develop a strong and a healthy child.

The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Nonkosi Mvana, appreciated the contributions made by the participants in the Bill and assured them about their consideration. “No contribution is meaningless or insignificant. They are all worthwhile and will get the same attention,” added Ms Mvana.


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