29 May 2014
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has urged the parents of children with disabilities to make use of government services available to assist them.
The minister’s call comes after reports emerged on Thursday of a neglected eight-year-old girl with disabilities who was locked up in a shack in Alexandra, Johannesburg. The girl is said to have been locked up all day in the shack by her mother, with no ventilation and without water or food.
“The reported neglect of the disabled child in the manner that has been described is concerning to us,” Dlamini said. “This incident once again brings under scrutiny the ability of South African parents to take care of their disabled children.”
Help for overwhelmed parents
Dlamini said the government has services to assist parents who feel they are incapable of caring correctly for their children. These include placing the children in alternative care in places of safety or foster care.
The minister added that social education was imperative. “However, over and above this, it is evident that we need to do more to educate and support parents with disabled children.”
Dlamini commended the community of Alexandra for alerting the authorities to the child’s plight. “This is the type of action required from all South Africans to protect our children. This is our shared responsibility that cannot be delegated.”
Child Protection Week
The Department of Social Development will launch Child Protection Week in Delft, Western Cape on 1 June.
The week-long campaign, under the theme “working together to protect children”, is a call to all South Africans to play their part in protecting and ensuring the well-being of children.
The department says it chose Delft for the launch because of the number of incidents of violence against children that have taken place in the area.
Since 1994, South Africa has taken considerable strides in rolling out legislative and programmatic interventions to advance child protection. The Bill of Rights in the country’s Constitution states that every child has the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.
To advance these rights, the Children’s Act (Act 38 of 2005) sets out principles relating to the care and protection of children, and defines related parental responsibilities and rights.
The Social Assistance Act, Child Justice Act and the Sexual Offences Act have given additional effect to the government’s constitutional responsibilities, reaffirming its commitment to ensuring safety, care and support for every child.