Minister Fernandez calls on everyone to help fight against child violence
The Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, welcomes the official launch of the National Child Protection Week taking place from 2-9 June 2019.
The protection of children, a key priority area for the Department of Social Development, is something that must be driven all year round and requires action from the whole of society. All of us need to be doing far more to prevent cases of child abuse, neglect and murders in our communities.
Today, Minister Fernandez and the Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz visited the Uitsig community after the brutal shooting of 11 year-old Ashwin Jones, a Grade 5 pupil from Tygersig Primary School on Friday night. This was one of several reported shootings involving children that took place over the weekend. They also visited Ashwin’s family to offer their condolences and support during this difficult time.
Minister Fernandez: “We cannot stand by and watch our children losing their lives in such senseless acts of violence. We need work together to ensure our children are safe and kept out of harm’s way.”
The 2017/2018 crime statistics released on 11 September 2018, indicate a total of 279 children were killed in the Western Cape during the period under review out of a total of 985 nationally, or 28.3%.
Minister Fernandez: “we are using a variety of data sources, including our Safe Schools programme, SAPs gang activity data and the mapping of murder trends from the Western Cape Child Death Review panel data, to identify and map high risk areas where we need to target our services the most.”
The death review panel comprises experts from provincial department of Social Development, provincial department of Health’s Forensic Pathology Services, academics from the 3 Western Cape universities and the National Prosecuting Authority and meets on quarterly to discuss child abuse, murder cases and caseloads.
The Department of Social Development urges all residents of the province to make use of its child protection services, which includes:
- Public Education and prevention programmes, targeting children; parents; families and communities, with a particular focus on parental responsibilities and rights.
- A range of programmes and services for children showing signs of risky behaviour, which include safety and risk assessment services; therapeutic and psycho social services; temporary safe care programmes; adolescent development; programmes for children with behavioural, psychological and emotional challenges; transitional care and support programmes for children about to exit alternative care; and programmes children living in the streets.
- Statutory services including foster care programmes and adoption programmes.
- Programmes aimed at reunifying children, that have been placed in alternative placements, with their families or communities of origin.
Upon visiting Ashwin Jones’s family today, the Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz commented “ I was incredibly shook by the threat of violence that Uitsig’s residents experience daily.” He further highlighted that “The Department of Community Safety will continue to work Better Together with the Department Social Development to provide the necessary interventions including youth camps, youth cafes, partial care facilities, religious school holiday programmes and supporting and capacitating neighbourhood watches. We also remain committed to working with the SAPS to ensure people guilty of abusing or murdering children are arrested and face the full might of the law.”
However, the fight against child abuse also requires the help and support of everyone in the province and so we urge anyone who is aware of, or has information on, children being abused, neglected or exposed to violence to please come forward and report this by:
- Calling or emailing the Western Cape Department of Social Development: 021 483 5045 and SD.CustomerCare@westerncape.gov.za
- Calling the SAPs crime stop hotline: 10111
- Calling Childline: 0861 322 322; or
- Calling Child Welfare SA: 0861 424 453