Cacadu District Child Protection Week concludes in Kou-Kamma

AUGUST 1, 2014
The rights and responsibilities of children took centre stage at the conclusion of this year’s annual Child Protection Week (CPW), which took place on the 5th of June at Kagiso Community Hall, in Kareedouw, in the Kou-Kamma Local Municipality.

The rights and responsibilities of children took centre stage at the conclusion of this year’s annual Child Protection Week (CPW), which took place on the 5th of June at Kagiso Community Hall, in Kareedouw, in the Kou-Kamma Local Municipality.

Child Protection Week, which started on the 27th of May this year, is commemorated in the country annually to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Children’s Act of 2005. The campaign also aims to mobilize all sectors of society and communities in the effort of ensuring care and protection of children.

 “We are meeting here today during Child Protection Week to observe the rights and the responsibilities of our children,” said Nosipho Nkalitshana, Manager for Children Programmes in the Provincial Department of Social Development, who was speaking on behalf of the newly-appointed MEC for Social Development, Nancy Sihlwayi.

 “South Africa is a signatory to the UN Charter on the rights of the child and government has prioritised protecting and developing our children.

“This week is an opportunity for us to teach children about their rights and also remind them that with rights come responsibility. It is also an opportunity for us, as parents, to ask questions about children’s rights and help one another to protect our children.”

She said that her department was working to ensure children have a say in matters that concern them as shown by the establishment of the Eastern Cape Child Parliament in Bhisho for children to discuss issues that affected them.

Speaking to Cacadu News, Department of Social Development Cacadu District Manager, Zandisile Tafeni, said: “Child protection is one of those critical issues that we have to look into. Our leaders agree that in order to secure our future as a country, we need to protect and empower our children.

“So government, not only the Department of Social Development, is prioritising the issues of early childhood development and we are on that drive.

“Child Protection Week reminds us, as signatories to the United Nations Charter on the rights of children that we have to continue to work to protect our children.”

He said, in the Langkloof, government was focusing on addressing challenges such as teenage pregnancies and drug and substance abuse among young people.

“Statistics show that there is a high rate of teenage pregnancy in this area and our research confirmed that there is indeed a problem, which we need to address,” he said.

“Then there is also a high incidence of children dropping out of school. We know that without education there is an even lesser chance of that child succeeding in the future.”

Tafeni praised the Cacadu District Municipality, led by Executive Mayor Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana, and the Kou-Kamma Local Municipality, led by Mayor Samuel Vuso, for taking the plight of children seriously.

“There are encouraging signs that there is understanding within the Cacadu District and among the political leaders that we can have better results when we work together – just like we did today, he noted.

Tafeni said that his department was focusing on strengthening families as a way to deal with social challenges.

“A community starts from a family – so we need stronger and more stable families in our District. I urge Cacadu residents to go back to their roots.

“The Cacadu District Municipality is also championing the issue of moral regeneration, under Speaker Deon de Vos and in a few weeks we will be in Cookhouse to spread that message,” he described.

“We need everyone to take a stand and condemn child abuse - even if it happens behind closed doors. Community members must come forward and report cases of child abuse to the law enforcement officials.

“We are also requesting the justice system to hand out harsher sentences to those convicted of child abuse – there must be no bail for these perpetrators, some of whom go back into communities to repeat the same offence.”

The event was attended by Councillors and officials from the Kou-Kamma Local Municipality, the South African Police Services (SAPS), the departments of Justice, Health, Social Development, Home Affairs, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and non-governmental organisations such as, Christelike Maatskaplike Raad (CMR), who were on hand to assist residents with information and services.