The DA has accused Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini of misleading Parliament on the number of names on the Child Protection Register – and is to request the Leader of Government Business, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, to investigate.
This follows the revelation, during a briefing by the government’s Social Protection and Community Development cluster earlier this week, that, after two years, there is only one name on the register of sex offenders and others considered not suitable to work with children.
This flies in the face of claims by Dlamini and her department that this was not the case and contradicts a claim by departmental spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant that the department had a list of 438 names of people convicted of child abuse.
The department recently stated that 19 830 cases of child abuse had been reported during 2011 alone.
Questioned at the briefing, Dlamini said legal issues and other challenges were complicating the development of the register.
“We should understand that when someone is found guilty in court, they must go through a second phase of pronouncing the unsuitability of that person to work with children. Only then can the name be placed on the register.”
A further hurdle was that provinces were supposed to submit names for the register, Dlamini said.
“Some provinces, like the Western Cape, have not given the department any names for the register,” she said.
DA social development spokesman Mike Waters called on Tuesday on the Speaker of Parliament, Max Sisulu, to provide for Dlamini to tell Parliament how many names were on the register at the earliest available opportunity.
Waters said that, in October last year, the department had revealed in a reply that there was only one name on the register, confirmed to still be the case at Monday’s briefing.
This meant Dlamini had given incorrect information in a parliamentary reply in December last year, when she had stated there were 22 names on the register.
It also meant, that, in May this year, the departments of Justice and Constitutional Development and Social Development had misrepresented the facts when they updated Parliament’s social development portfolio committee on the register, and reported that it contained 438 names.
“Either Minister Dlamini is deliberately misleading Parliament or she does not have a grip on what is going on with the Child Protection Register,” Waters said.
“Frankly, whether there is one name on it or 438, the register is a complete mess. How can there be so few names on the Child Protection Register when it is estimated that around 30 000 children per year are victims of sexual abuse?” Waters asked.