Interim Report on Sexual Abuse of Children: consideration

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


18 March 2002

Documents handed out
Progress Report of Task Group on Sexual Abuse of Children (Appendix)

The report on the progress of the task group on sexual abuse on children hearings was discussed.  It was proposed that the life of the group should be extended for monitoring purposes.

The Task Group read through the report and changes were noted. It was suggested that Parliament would be asked to extend the life of the Group so that recommendations made in the final report could be monitored with regard to implementation. However, a decision on this would only be taken once the final report had been tabled.  It was hoped that a final report would be completed within two weeks of Parliament reconvening.

The meeting was adjourned.

Interim Report of the Task Group on Sexual Abuse of Children on the progress with regard to the hearings held on the sexual abuse of children, dated 18 March 2002

1. The Task Group on the Sexual Abuse of Children was established by the Speaker to give effect to the motion passed in the National Assembly on 14 November 2001. (See ATC dated 11 February 2002.) This multiparty Task Group consists of two members each of the following committees: Portfolio Committee on Education; Portfolio Committee on Health; Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security; Portfolio Committee on Social Development; Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth and People with Disabilities and the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women.

2. At the first meeting of the Task Group on 6 February 2002, Mr E Saloojee was unanimously elected as chairperson and it was agreed that he would take the responsibility of setting up the hearings. It was decided at this meeting that the hearings should be publicised as widely as possible and that the relevant government departments should be invited to brief the Task Group on their programmes aimed at combating the sexual abuse of children as well as the legislative framework within which these programmes operate.

3. As a result, advertisements were placed in the Sunday Times and City Press on 10 and 17 February 2002 indicating a cut-off date of 3 March 2002. In addition, in the week of 11-15 February 2002 approximately 150 letters were faxed and emailed to a range of organisations and individuals throughout the country who would be interested in the issue of rape and abuse of children. The five relevant Ministers and Departments were invited to make very brief submissions on the first day of the hearings. In addition, the South African Law Commission was invited to talk about their work on the Review of the Child Care Act and the Sexual Offences Act.

4. Each Member of Parliament was given a batch of ten copies of the print advert with a covering letter asking them to publicise the hearings in their constituencies.

5. The Chairperson also engaged the services of the Public Education Department at Parliament, which organised public information radio spots about the issue on 14 radio stations in all the official languages during the week of 23 February 2002 to 3 March 2002. This was done using the resources of the Public Education Department.

6. Notwithstanding the time constraints placed upon the TG by the deadline of 15 March 2002, 51 responses in terms of applications to make oral submissions were received. Through a process of careful selection, the Chairperson decided on which organisations and individuals would be accorded a time slot. It was decided to ask those who could not be accommodated in the programme to submit written submissions.

7. The Task Group agreed to fund eight individuals who were not able to afford to travel to Cape Town so that people are not excluded due to economic reasons.

8. In all about 76 submissions had been received. The Task Group agreed to accept written submissions in any of the official languages, and in cases where people are unable to write, to accept recorded submissions so that as many voices were heard as possible.

9. The deadline confined the hearings to be held from Monday, 11 March 2002 until Wednesday, 13 March 2002 from 09:00 to 17:00 each day, and from 14:00 until 18:00 on Thursday, 14 March 2002, thereby limiting the time for adequate questions to the presenters. The meeting on 14 March 2002, at which the Task Group heard submissions from a group of children, was not open to the public. This was facilitated by the Afrika Cultural Trust.This was done in order to protect the identities of the children, some of who were survivors of abuse including sexual abuse.

10. The Task Group heard from the following persons and organisations:

Monday, 11 March 2002

* Department of Social Development
* Department of Education
* Department Safety and Security
* Department Justice and Constitutional Development
* Department Home Affairs
* Department of Health
* South African Law Commission
* Chairperson of the NCOP (Ms N Pandor)
* Ms T Duze - Bultfontein
* Community Law Centre (UWC)
* Ms L Khoza - Newcastle

Tuesday, 12 March 2002

* Cape Town Child Welfare Society
* It's Your Move Youth Action
* South African National Council for Child Welfare
* WACA Advice Centre - G A Rankua
* South African Human Rights Commission
* Childline
* UN Child Justice Project
* Ms F Dyanti (Rape Survivor)
* South African Catholics Bishops' Conference
* Domestic Violence Helpline (Durban)
* Shadow Pictures
* Rapcan
* Nadel

Wednesday, 13 March 2002

* Molo Songololo
* Ms R Kadalie
* UCT Children's Institute
* Far North Regional Network on Violence - Pietersburg
* Professional Board for Psychology
* CIET Africa
* Palliative Medicine Institute
* Johannesburg Child Welfare Society
* Medical Research Council
* Child Protection Programme (UWC)
* National House of Traditional Leaders
* ACCESS/ Children's Rights Centre / Soul City

Thursday, 14 March 2002

* Afrika Cultural Trust

11. The Task Group, having heard from the persons and organisations listed above, having examined the written submissions and in view of -

* the limited time available to the Task Group to carefully consider all the information gathered at the hearings to enable it to prepare its report;

* the complexity of the divergent issues raised during the public hearings, which require careful consideration for appropriate action;

* the myriad of legislative measures dealing with sexual offences against children that have been raised for close scrutiny by various parties at the hearings;

* the need for careful review in order to co-ordinate the roles and relationships of the various institutions and other role-players involved in combating the sexual abuse of children; and

* the need for detailed recommendations to be discussed by the various political parties individually prior to their inclusion in a final report of the Task Group,

proposes that a final report be tabled in the National Assembly during the second parliamentary session, after careful consideration by all political parties, with full recommendations for appropriate action to be taken in response to those issues raised in the Report.

To be considered.


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