Durban - Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu says children should remain children and it is the community’s role to create a conducive environment and end child labour.
Zulu visited a Child and Youth Care Centre in Sydenham on Sunday ahead of the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour. The conference which started on Sunday is taking place at the Durban ICC and ends on Friday, May 20.
The conference is also taking place during Child Protection Month.
Zulu said child labour is a global issue but SA is more vulnerable to the scourge as there are a lot of child-headed households and displaced children.
“Parents play a huge and crucial part in protecting all children in society and they are key participants in our attempts of eliminating child labour in South Africa.”
Zulu said the department has programmes aimed at eliminating child labour including the provision of social grants. She said the bulk of the department’s budget is allocated to children.
According to the Global Estimates on Child Labour, jointly released by the International Labour Organisation and Unicef last year, 160 million children are in child labour today.
Without a breakthrough in the African region, the UN will not meet Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.
The children’s centre visited by Zulu hosts children who are placed in terms of the Children’s Act and the Child Justice Act which are administered by the departments of Social Development and Justice and Correctional Services respectively.
Zulu mentioned that some children placed in the facility are in conflict with the law and most of them have committed petty thefts but some were involved in cases of sexual assault.
“Some of the children found themselves in conflict with the law after being used by adults to commit crime which is regarded as the worst form of child labour. Others were used as mules to deliver or distribute illicit drugs. The centre was visited by the Human Rights Council to investigate the model of hosting children who are placed for being in conflict with the law and it was recommended for the provision of care and protection service programmes to be initiated in line with legal protocols,” said Zulu.
The Durban based facility adopts a strength based Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) approach and children who are admitted at the facility come from all over South Africa after being lured to the Metro for different reasons including to work as domestic workers.
Their admission at the centre is a safety measure to protect them from child labour and other forms of exploitation.