Premier Helen Zille and Minister of Social Development Albert Fritz kicked off Child Protection Week on an heroic note.
The pair visited Mitchells Plain yesterday to launch the provincial campaign with a door-to-door visit in Beacon Valley.
But before the walkabout could start, eagle-eyed Zille spotted a toddler wandering about unattended in the street.
Zille immediately asked where the little girl stayed and residents pointed out the house.
At the house, Zille questioned the mother and wanted to know why the child, who looked about three years old, was allowed to play outside alone.
The mom denied leaving her child alone, and said she had left her with her sister.
Zille advised the mom to keep a closer eye on her daughter.
In Hengelaar Street, Beacon Valley, Minister Fritz said the key message he wanted to bring home to people this year was, “child protection is everyone’s business”.
The department spends the largest portion of its
R651.5 million budget and resources (1510 social work professionals) on services that assist children and families.
“This year’s Child Protection Week comes in the wake of truly gruesome incidents of violence and murders against children,” said Fritz.
“This year our message must be even louder in condemning these incidents.”
Premier Zille chatted with residents who were curious about the aim of the walk.
“We have been walking the streets of Mitchells Plain and have found a number of children completely unattended at a young age,” said Zille.
“I expect everyone in the community to make sure that those children are with responsible adults at all times.
“We returned children to their homes and spoke to any caregivers we found about the dangers of letting a child walk around like that alone in the streets.
“That is a serious issue and we hope to raise awareness to prevent this kind of thing happening. Everyone in the community has a responsibility to help keep our children safe.”
Charlotte Heynes, 59, says she is fed up of parents
leaving their kids in the care of grandparents.
“The mothers are on drugs or walk around and neglect their kids. This is a big problem in this area, the kids are all left with the ouma and the mom gets to walk around,” she fumes.
“Here are homes with five or seven kids who live together and who stroll on the streets most of the day.”
The public is urged to report any abuse or negligence of children to any social development office or call the hotline on
0800 220 250.