In the last two weeks:
- Newly born baby from Delft went missing but later found alive and well in a Delft home. A 25 -year old woman was arrested.
- Veronique Solomons, 8, from Steenberg, missing, presumed abducted.
- Albert Smith, 2, from Athlone, disappeared Saturday afternoon.
- Joey Josephs, 3, from Delft went missing on Wednesday night.
- On Monday the charred body of a girl of about eight was found in a bushy area in Zeekoevlei near Grassy Park.
The recent incidences of severe crimes committed against children in the Western Cape has prompted the Department of Social Services and Poverty Alleviation to fast-track a programme of action to protect children who are one of the most vulnerable sectors of our society.
MEC for Social Services and Poverty Alleviation Koleka Mqulwana has made child protection a key focus area in her interaction with communities via recent Imbizo processes.
And she has called upon communities to strengthen networks to ensure the safety and well-being of children. She has further stressed the need to adopt the principle of "Your child is my child".
She has also urged communities to interact with NGOs and Community Police Forums to devise strategies and programmes to promote child safety.
At a recent Imbizo in Delft focused on child protection MEC Mqulwana stressed that Government alone cannot be the sole custodian of children and that communities have an integral role to play in creating a stable and safe environment for children.
She also encouraged community members to make contact with one of DSSPA's 16 District Offices where social workers and other trained professionals are on hand to assist families in promoting child safety.
MEC Mqulwana, through her Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme, has already promoted the care, protection and development of young children in a healthy and safe environment.
The comprehensive child protection plan, developed by the Department of Social Services and Poverty Alleviation, will kick off in November and will place a special emphasis on awareness workshops for parents and a school holiday programme for children between the ages of 7-12 years.
The child protection plan forms an integral part of the Christmas Deliverables of the Provincial Government of the Western Cape.
The care and protection of children within the context of the family and the community is a Constitutional imperative which has been enshrined in the newly passed Children's Bill as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which South Africa has ratified.
The child protection plan will focus on the promotion and strengthening of social capital which, in the case of this programme will facilitate networks of care and support in communities where the stock of social capital is seriously eroded due to poverty, crime, violence and other social ills.
The plan will also integrate various aspects of the Department's strategic objectives namely: children, youth, older persons, substance abuse, crime prevention, HIV/Aids into one programme which addresses concrete issues in communities.
The four-week programme will be rolled out at 32 sites in the geographical areas of operation of DSSPA's 16 District Offices and the Department hopes to reach approximately 10 000 children via this programme.
The children will be engaged on a daily basis in activities focusing on, amongst others, knowing children's rights, preservation of the natural environment, story telling, drama, life skills, inter-generational programmes, HIV/Aids, child abuse, sports, awareness of substance abuse and crime prevention.
The children - targeted in particularly poor communities - will also receive meals for the duration of the programme.
"Government requires the support of communities to ensure that children can live and play in surroundings where they feel safe and loved," MEC Uys said. "We have a duty of care towards children who are unable to fend for themselves and who have a trusting innocence in adults.
"Together, we must build networks in our communities that are aimed at the safe-keeping of our young ones."
Contact: Minister Pierre Uys
Herman van der Westhuizen