Molo Songololo, a Section 21 company involved in child issues, reported an increase in the media reports in the last few year on child trafficking and child exploitation. This involved also sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and exploitation of children’s body parts, including child pornography. It was unfortunate that the legislation around these issues was either lacking or was being inadequately enforced and monitored. All government organs and departments were accountable for the implementation and realisation of the rights of the child. Although the Children’s Act tried to advance a specific framework for the care and protection of the children within
Other issues affecting children that needed to be addressed included their access to health and social welfare services and the ability to access transport to ensure that sick children could reach clinics and hospitals. Much more could be done in the long term with the focus on prevention. The reintroduction of the Child Protection Units was welcomed.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development noted that people generally entered the justice system when all else had failed, so the Department was seen as one of last resort. Prevention needed to be addressed at much earlier levels, so that inappropriate matters did not end up in the courts. Everyone in
The challenges included that the rights-based approach now being adopted required joint budgeting and prioritisation. For instance, the Department of Justice had certain obligations under the Children’s Act, yet because it was not the implementing Department for this Act, it was not allocated a budget. It had also not yet been given a ringfenced allocation for implementation of the Child Justice Act, and had been forced to transfer funds from the general budget to commence its preparatory work. Change management was urgent, and specific training was required for everyone dealing with children and their development. Linkages between clusters must be managed efficiently to ensure that nothing slipped through gaps. Communication was also vital, and the Committee would play a major role in managing the legislation and ensuring that when Bills were passed, the appropriate frameworks were in place to ensure that they could be implemented.
Members were generally appreciative of both presentations and asked a number of questions for clarity, agreeing with the approaches. Some of the issues raised included the incorrect or incomplete statistics of the Department of Social Development, whether Molo Songololo worked in rural areas, and what its relationships to other departments or civil society were, the need to emphasise good communication and awareness programmes, the need to have effective and continuous monitoring. The Department of Justice was asked to address a problem in the
The Committee discussed its proposed visit to
Child issues: Presentation by Molo Songololo (MS)
Mr Patric Solomons, Molo Songololo, briefed the Committee on the work of Molo Songololo with regard to child protection. He noted that Molo Songololo (MS) was a child rights organisation, structured as a Section 21 company, that strove to advance the rights of children and ensure their protection. It worked with children and their caregivers. MS had conducted research in 2000, as well as later smaller studies, around trafficking of children and child sexual exploitation, identifying various cases and working with law enforcement agencies, victims of child trafficking, victims of child sexual exploitation and of child labour.
MS advocated for the proper implementation of existing laws concerning children, and also for the reform of the law, particularly with regard to anti-trafficking legislation MS found that the legislation on child labour, as well as some provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) to be grossly neglected, as were other provisions of other legislation concerning commercial and sexual exploitation of individuals. It facilitated a range of initiatives within government and civil society to respond to child trafficking and child sexual exploitation.
Mr Solomons noted that recently there had been more reports on these issues, both in
From June to August 2009, 26 new cases of child sexual exploitation, some also involving labour and trafficking, were identified. 32 children had agreed to be part of the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP). 44 children were assisted, mainly in respect of rape cases from the communities of
The VEP programme included case identifications, follow-up and investigation. Identification was very difficult and challenging. Typically, cases would only become apparent once there had been a rape or sexual exploitation, and it could take a considerable time to establish exploitation or trafficking in children. Case assessment would involve the victim, and sometimes the parent, as well as sometimes social workers and police.
MS attended to advising and referrals, basic and professional counselling, and provision of basic needs of food, toiletries and transport. Many of the children had been abandoned by their families and were living on the streets with other people who exploited them. MS also became involved in family intervention through-parent support and parenting skills development, particularly since some of the abused children had their own children too, health examinations, treatment and support, including HIV and Aids interventions, abortions and dealing with the complications arising from abortions. MS would also assist victims to report matters to the police, with court preparation and support, motivation and life skills, with returning to school or vocational training, and healing therapy and counselling.
MS noted that it faced a number of challenges. Most of the children it assisted were aged twelve and up, and they had lack of empathy for older children, or also experiences unfriendly attitudes of other services towards the children, mainly through lack of appreciation of the complexities of child exploitation, including the police regarding many complaints as the result of quarrels between boyfriends and girlfriends. Lack of understanding across the board of child sexual exploitation, child labour exploitation, and child trafficking was rife. Children found it difficult to give statements, either to the police or to prosecutors, resulting in inadequate evidence to prosecute properly. Families were not always willing to re-integrate, and some actually benefited from the child exploitation. Alcohol and drug abuse in these families was prevalent. The country also lacked rehabilitation services for children.
Mr Solomons noted that the Department of Social Development (DSD) had recently presented the results of a study in respect of sexual, physical, emotional abuse and neglect at a National Child Life Committee meeting, which showed no abuse reported in
Mr Solomons noted that child trafficking and child exploitation were very complex as many different role players were involved. It was difficult to distinguish offenders and to identify victims. Most of those who facilitated the trafficking of children in Western and
The reasons for child trafficking and exploitation included the demand for cheap and fruitful labour. Poverty and globalisation both contributed and had to be addressed.
MS was concerned that no single agency, organisation or government department could respond to the issue of child trafficking or child exploitation. There was general lack of expertise to respond, yet a need for all Government departments and other agencies to get involved and perform their functions, from monitoring through education through to issues like providing safe parks where children could play. There was a need to see that victims were receiving the kind of protection they deserved.
Molo Songololo had particularly conducted an assessment with key government departments and NGOs in five host cities on the possible impact of the 2010 World Cup. The high levels of vulnerability of South African children placed them in the high risk category. The large influx of local and foreign people to host cities was expected to increase the abuse, exploitation and trafficking of children. The expected economic gain would increase the demand for cheap and exploitable labour and services from children, and would also encourage children to migrate to cities to beg or seek work. The demand for sexual services would also increase, and it was feared that child prostitution and pornography would also increase. The closure of schools during the period would leave children unattended, alone and often unprotected. Increase in alcohol and drug abuse was expected to fuel social crimes against children. The relaxation of certain border controls and visas would make it easier for child migration.
Mr Solomons pointed out that although Civil Society and NGOs undertook a wide range of services that were victim focused, they could not prosecute and punish offenders. Therefore, Government must implement laws and policies, run social development services and give assistance to victims – but he pointed out that victims already found it hard to access services. Inter-governmental agencies were running counter trafficking and exploitation programmes, awareness campaigns, capacity building, VEPs and establishing shelters. Generally he noted a lack of response within government on child protection.
Mr Solomons noted that monitoring posed another challenge and said mechanisms must be developed. This included looking at the monitoring of the child legislative framework, the role and obligations of all government organs and departments to the care, development and protection of children, the quality of service offered to children and the need to roll out services to all children, especially those in the 14 to 17 year old bracket, who were not receiving priority. There was a need also to look at access to services of poor and rural children.
Mr Solomons concluded that all government organs and departments were accountable for the implementation and the realisation of the rights of the child. This made it important to develop inter governmental cooperation and joint intervention programmes to advance the care, development and protection of all children , especially those in poor and rural communities, and to foster partnerships with civil society, where Government created the enabling environment and made resources available.
Mr Solomons said that the promotion and advancement of participation rights of children were also important. Specific rights for children were set out in various legislation, like the Children’s Act, but there was a need to check how Government department were realising these rights and developing programmes. Child protection should be done by early intervention, statutory backing, and monitoring and evaluation. Although it was to some extent being done, it was grossly under resourced and there was a lack of programmes.
Mr Solomons said that related issues included addressing vulnerability of the girl child, increasing Early Childhood Development and other care and developmental services, ensuring that children completed schooling and were properly literate, and that quality education was provided with library and other facilities and support services. In addition, there was a need to consider what children were doing after school, and if extramural activities were available, since many children who were unoccupied would become involved in undesirable activities. There was increase of crime both against and perpetrated by children during the school holidays, because of lack of organised activity. There was a need for local government to create and maintain parks and open spaces, and to increase access to health and social welfare services. He cited a recent case where a woman had approached MS to say that she had not been able to afford to feed her children for three days. DSD, when receiving this report, told her to return in three days’ time, then lost the papers applying for the child grant. If this could happen to someone in the city, he said the plight of those in rural areas was far worse. Other issues included transport of ill children to clinics and hospitals.
Mr Solomons said that he was pleased with the reintroduction of the Child Protection Unit specialised units at a national level, and looked forward to hearing how civil society organisations could support the reestablishment of these units, and what assistance could be given to ensure the provision of quality service to all children in South Africa who were at risk and in need. He urged that the focus should be on preventative measures that would address the problems identified.
Ms M Boroto (ANC,
Ms A Qikana (ANC,
Mr O de Beer (COPE,
Mr L Nzimande (ANC, KwaZulu Natal) supported what his colleagues had expressed but said there was limited time to engage and try to find the kind of intervention and support that the Committee could give. More sessions of this nature were needed. He said that the problems were serious and worrying, and he had noted the emphasis on the need to constantly monitor what Government was doing and how effective it was. He said that the structure and design of programmes should be carefully examined by the Committee. He alluded to the case where the mother of three children had been turned away, saying that now the South African Social Security Agency should be able to deal with this, as it had plenty of funding, but its efficiency must still be addressed. If there were resources, but lack of access, then this was very disturbing. He appreciated the work that MS did in advancing children's rights and the Committee should work hand in hand with them. He suggested that the Committee should make room for a session in which all stakeholders in the child sector could offer their opinions on where the gaps were and how best to address them. The Committee might also need to call in MECs and departmental heads and questions them on budgets, allocations, staffing and monitoring.
Mr Solomons responded that the issue around statistics was very complicated. There was a need for proper research and also a need for proper unpacking of the systems already existing. It was very difficult to get research about children in the rural areas. He suggested that a community or household survey would probably be the best to use, but the data would need proper analysis. He noted that although the statistics were presented by the Department of Social Development, it was clear that this Department did not have proper data collection mechanism in place. Although the Child Protection Register and the Sexual Offences Register were being set up, and might help to give future indications, these certainly would not cover all issues, and there was still doubt in determining how large the problem was in regard to children. The National Commissioner of Police’s crime statistics might also throw some light.
He said that unfortunately MS did not have the capacity to expand further, and outside the province. Most of the work was performed in
Mr Solomons said there was a need to look at exactly who was providing services to children. Government at one level outsourced to a whole range of organisations, but was beginning to lose its institutional strength with regard to development programmes, and implementation of programme management. Government had a Constitutional mandate to protect whose parents, whether in rural, urban or informal areas, were unable to do so. Problems here remained as lack of access, poverty, and under-resourcing. Quite apart from those cases where crime against children was taking place, the basic needs of children were not being addressed.
Mr Solomons agreed that awareness programmes were important, but said these should be part of a more holistic approach. Prevention was not only about awareness, but also about providing a whole range of services and opportunities to children and their families so that children were better cared for and protected. Preventative measures would reduce crime, increase their livelihoods and ensure that their rights were respected. Poverty, lack of access and lack of resources combined as a recipe for disaster.
Mr Solomons said that there had been many strides made towards child protection in
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ) Briefing
Adv Shireen Said, Chief Director:Vulnerable Groups, Department of Justice, noted the apologies of the Director General and Deputy Director General, who were launching the
She said that Department of Justice (DOJ or the Department) seemed to be the department of last resort, in the sense that people tended to enter the justice system when all other efforts had failed. The Department had tried to turn around how its services were organised for better coordination and from a policy point of view to address some of the problems with the processes.
She noted that prevention, from DOJ’s viewpoint, was done when people were entering the Justice system cluster. She said that prevention perhaps needed to be emphasised at a far earlier level, at communities or other structures, by measuring the extent to which they were not addressing child issues.
One of the strategic objectives of the DOJ was to promote and protect the rights of children, to offer restorative justice and the management of sexual offences, domestic violence and maintenance services and to provide adequate Family Law Services to protect the interests of children. Much of the legislation was approached from the perspective of rights, and this assumed that there must be an implementation management system that was effective, coordinated and holistic in terms of desegration of data.
Adv Said noted that each child engaged in the criminal justice system must be able to get access to comprehensive service. The DOJ was a lead department in establishing policy frameworks and policies, and must coordinate. All rights of individuals were inter-related and inter-dependent. There were many challenges around coordination, because various departments were responsible for implementation and departmental focus under the same piece of legislation. Every Bill coming into the system must pass through the whole cluster, and there must be monitoring mechanisms that entrenched the coordination of services as well as the framework under which the services were to be performed.
She reported that DOJ coordinated and put in place coordinating committees to ensure that government departments spoke to each other, and that legislation was correctly programmed. The Child Justice Act was dealt with through the Child Justice Committee. The Criminal Law Amendment (Sexual Offences and Related Matters Act) 2007 (the Sexual Offences Act) was handled through the Intersectoral Committee on Sexual Offences. The Restorative Justice Policy Framework fell under the Restorative Justice Task Team. The Trafficking Bill was still under discussion and negotiation, but there would be a Trafficking Task Team.
Adv Said admitted that access to justice was a block in the system. Many people were unaware of where they should go, and often approached the courts to try to get legal advice or information. The Department had tried to set up paralegal and legal information services in rural areas, to set up a network of structures that would assist communities to take their issues to the proper forum, and to assess whether in fact the matters needed to go through the justice system.
In respect of the Child Justice Act, she noted the need to contextualise that about 1% of all children entered the criminal justice system as children in conflict with the law. Much emphasis was placed on the question of whether the systems would be ready to handle all issues arising from this legislation, when it came into effect, and one of the prime features of the Act was that by the time it was to come into force, the systems would be up and running. The Act had been promulgated but would come into full operation on 1 April 2010. By December 2009, all regulations, systems and processes must be tabled before Parliament. Evaluation processes must be done and assessments made of whether people were being used to their maximum ability, and sufficient time allowed to do this, so that the budgets could be properly spent.
Ms L Mabe (ANC) took the Chair at this stage.
Adv Said reported some of the programmes for the Child Justice Act would include NGOs and other organs of civil society. The National Policy Framework must also be tabled by December, but that Committee would continue to sit until after the Act was implemented. Oversight of implementation would involve Government departments, magistrates, Legal Aid of South Africa and some of the NGOs on the Child Justice Alliance, the Chapter 9 Institutions and the House of Traditional Leaders. Restorative justice was the main thrust of implementation. The nine Provincial Child Justice forums were already in place, managed by the Regional Heads of each province, and they were reporting to the DOJ monthly on problems and issues around implementation.
Although the Framework was not yet in place the process of diversion had already commenced. Since 2005 the number of children in detention had been halved, because of diversion options being exercised. This was managed by Department of Social Development, but the CJA required that there must be consultation with the DOJ as well as other government departments, such as Department of Correctional Services, and civil society on programmes, testing of their effectiveness and management. Accountability measures were being built in, so that if a child entering the system was identified as a child in need of care, yet had not been referred to DSD, the police officer who had failed to fill in the forms would be held accountable, in order to capture and deal with needs at a early stage. That system would be implemented fully by December 2010. The NGO statistics showed that only 10% to 15% of children diverted or given non-custodial sanctions would re-offend. The numbers of children detained whilst awaiting trial had also dropped by 50% from 2002 to 2009. There had been pilots done by inter-sectoral and inter-cluster committees which showed substantial successes in reducing reoffending.
Adv Said reported that there some challenges. The rights based approach required joint budgeting and prioritization. For the Children’s Act, budgets had been sourced from National Treasury a year or two in advance, but these had been allocated to the main implementing Department, so that although the DOJ was expected to implement certain provisions of the Children’s Act it had no allocation to do so. DOJ had therefore put a portion of its general budget to the rights of children, as it was strongly committed to this aspect. Similarly DOJ had not yet received a budget for implementation of the Child Justice Act.
Adv Said stressed that children were the future of the country. If the numbers of children who were in conflict with the law, and the number of dysfunctional homes in which children were being reared were not remedied at an early stage, then
Adv Said said that change management was a very important aspect. No matter what legal framework was put in place, specific training would be needed on all child development issues, and in order to understand the trauma, so that, for instance, the system of Child Justice, instead of further traumatizing the child, became therapeutic. Linkage between clusters was important, particularly since some matters would tend to fall through the gaps, so that it was important for different Departments to present jointly to the parliamentary clusters. This had been done already with Department of Correctional Services and Department of Justice, and found to be effective. Communication, both inter-departmentally and to the public was a major issue.
Adv Said pointed out that Portfolio Committees would play a large role in management of legislation. The Traditional Courts Bill would soon be referred to the NCOP. It was important to consider what policy framework and systems were already in place and what systems were in place, so that the date of implementation should ensure that sufficient time was given to prepare the systems to avoid having a right of paper that was not capable of implementation. This was why the CJA had given the DOJ, SAPS and Correctional Services, as well as DSD and Department of Education eighteen months to prepare, and all bore a collective responsibility to see that the right service was in place according to the Act for the promotion and protection of children.
Adv Said lastly said that although her presentation had reflected the amount of R1.5 million allocated for domestic violence, that applied only to the National Office policy services countrywide.
Mr Nzimande thanked Adv Said for her interesting presentation and remarked that it was encouraging to see how Government was trying to respond to the needs of children. The challenge was always to get things right and to make implementation effective.
Mr Nzimande reported that the coordinating Committee had paid oversight visits to the
Mr Nzimande said there were many concerns around the Master's Office, especially around payment of maintenance, and he said that people were having difficulty in accessing services. He noted that Departments would be having to speak about whether they were using their budgets efficiently in future.
Mr de Beer asked what the function of the One Stop Child Justice Centre in the pilot process, and what was the possibility of expanding this. He said that the decrease of 50% cited between 2002 and 2009 was not being communicated to the public.
The Chairperson sought clarity on the challenges of inter-departmental relations, and asked whether that intended to refer to challenges within each department, or in communication from one department to another. .
The Chairperson asked if the Committee needed to assist in respect of budgeting and resource allocations. She also asked if there was special legislation focusing on children with disabilities.
Adv Said responded that there were two pieces of legislation with regard to children with disabilities, namely the Children’s Act and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. She noted again that the
Adv Said noted that there was still a challenge with communication outside of Government, as Mr de Beer had noted in regard to using the option of diversion. Government communication strategies were becoming more integrated, but there was still sometimes the problem that the right coordinating committees were not getting the message across, sometimes because the systems were not talking to each other. Government services were not all automated yet, so what DSD might have in its statistics did not necessarily match the statistics of DOJ. This was a systemic problem as opposed to lack of willingness, and there was indeed a great deal of commitment to make things work. There was fairly good cohesion in the children’s sector and even better cohesion in respect of the CJA. Coordination between Government and civil society and non government organisations had enabled faster progress. Because children were a vulnerable group and unable to speak for themselves, most of the stakeholders were in agreement on the issues and tended to show good cooperation. She noted that the Child Justice Committee had now been running for almost ten years and had resolved a number of issues. It was looking forward to where children would be in the next twenty to thirty years, and establish a coordinated thrust and focus. For instance, it must be ensured that National Treasury, when giving allocations, did so to certain categories rather than to departments. She reiterated that the DOJ had had to use its general budget, not specifically allocated for implementation of children’s legislation, to ensure that it could implement the legislation, and that the budgets for implementation of the Children’s Act were allocated only to DSD, and not to other departments that had a role to play. DOJ had a core responsibility in respect of Chapter 4 of the Children’s Act, but had no budget.
Adv Said responded to the question on coordination of the Northern Cape Committee, saying that this Committee met monthly and she would take up the matter with Mr Isaacs and report back. This Committee had met on the previous day with all nine regions present, and had considered the Tads. She noted that some children were in custody if they had committed repeat offences. There was a range of response rates within the Department in terms of the inter sectoral committee. Generally, they were very quick to respond and had to be commended for this. Within 48 hours, SAPS would have informed DSD and Legal Aid of any child held in detention. Usually those children kept in detention would have committed serious or severely violent crimes or be multiple offenders. Statistics were possible to get because of the requirement for a 48-hour response, but usually the response was complete within 24 hours.
Adv Said agreed that there was a need for training and change management of attitudes, particularly for judicial officers. DOJ had produced a manual and the CJA required the DOJ to report annually to Parliament as to what training every magistrate and police officer had gone through in respect of child issues. The training would focus on the restorative approach to managing crime and persons that were processed. The system may not be perfect, but those were the frameworks put in place, and monitoring was vital.
Adv Said reported that the One Stop Centres cost the Department R20 million per centre to set up. The two were set up as pilot projects, before the CJA was passed. The physical structure had reduced the number of people being put through the full criminal justice system by almost fifteen percent and many were referred outside the system when their issues did not in fact involve Justice matters. DSD had put up secure care facilities countrywide in terms of the Children's Act for child and youth care. The CJA would be made more effective if, instead of establishing expensive structures in all nine regions, the seat of the Court could be proclaimed at existing DSD centres. The same service would be provided as before, but the facility would be put to more productive use and would be cheaper than the One Stop Centres. The Marina Managing Centre had received a UN award for its restorative results, attributed to managing children more efficiently through having all services in one place instead of children being transported from one to the other by police. In respect of specialization of services, Adv Said noted that previous services were predominantly in urban areas servicing specific groups of people, and DOJ was now looking at services instead of facilities. There were currently thirty-five secure care facilities with a view of putting up another thirty or so.
The Chairperson thought that R20 million was not such a large amount of money.
Adv Said responded that it must be seen in the context of increasing productivity and case flow management. Putting up one building to service a small group of children was not cost-effective. The secure care model would be far cheaper, as it would encompass services other than justice, reduce the need to travel between departments to access their services, and have all the services available, especially cutting out the need for circuit courts. A comprehensive report had been done and as soon as it was approved internally the Committee could look at the options.
Adv Said noted, with regard to communication, that EU had assisted the Department, and in the next couple of months communication programmes on managing restorative approaches would start, predominantly with community based organisations. Comments made when the Bill was under discussion highlighted that society had formerly taken a highly punitive response, and it was important, when changing to a restorative approach, to ensure that the benefits of this were understood and to disabuse people of their misperceptions. Justice should be restorative for all, not just children, and adopt a more therapeutic and preventative approach. The DOJ would also present its implementation plan, once the mechanics had been settled, to MPs, Committees and broader civil society.
Adv Said responded to concerns around the Master’s office by saying that much attention had been given to its right-sizing, but she would ask the Department to take this forward during another session. She noted that there was much concern around child-headed households and the inability of children to access services.
The Chairperson asked whether DOJ had any relationship with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Adv Said replied that this was not official; there was a relationship with the United Nations and DSD was the coordinating department on children’s issues, many of which were concerned with promotion of children’s issues and protection. DOJ had done some work around policy development and training, and sat on the Advisory Committee of the DSD.
The Chairperson thanked Adv Said and Mr Solomons for their presentations.
Oversight visit to Eastern Cape 14 to 18 September
The Chairperson announced that the Committee would need to undertake a site visit to either KwaZulu Natal or the Eastern Cape to deal with the issues of ukuthwala and rape statistics, but there was also a request from the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs for a joint visit to Eastern Cape, as some Members served on both committees.
Mr Nzimande said the principle had agreed upon was that Committees sharing members should, wherever possible, try to combine visits. He noted that the main objective of this visit would be to look at ukuthwala, but the Committee would also need to look at the secure facilities for the implementation of the Child Justice Bill; to meet the Review Committee dealing with children in detention, and Department of Correctional Services. He proposed a visit to the OR Tambour area, but thought that it might also be necessary to visit
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee must be careful to abide by the programme. She noted that the other Committee had already made the arrangements.
She noted that in future the Committee would sit on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mr Nzimande noted that Friday was still a working day, and urged that this be retained.
Other Members agreed that until the re-shuffling of Committees this Committee would continue to meet on Friday.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Child protection, violence & abuse against children, Ukuthwala practices, virginity testing, initiation: Department of Justice
- Women, Children and People with Disabilities: Briefing by Department of Justice, Molo Songololo on child protection
- Women, Children and People with Disabilities(National Council of Provinces),[Briefing by Department of Justice, Molo Songololo o
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