Statistician-General Pali Lehohla addressing the media on Tuesday Photo / ANA

Tshwane - As poverty continues to bite in most parts of South Africa, more people are migrating to Gauteng and the Western Cape, and that "tempo" could increase, Statistician-General Pali Lehohla warned on Tuesday.

"Of course they differ, but you see the highest [levels of poverty] are in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Free State," Lehohla said as he released findings of the Poverty Trends in South Africa at a press briefing in Pretoria.

"When it comes to Gauteng and Western Cape, you see poverty dropping. Therefore we cannot stop migration from all the provinces that are poor to the urban ones, which are Gauteng and the Western Cape."

Lehohla said with dim prospects of opportunity in the other seven provinces, the developed two must brace for more inhabitants.

"So migration is a given, and the tempo will increase. In fact, you will see more poverty in the urban areas as urbanisation creates more poverty for the modern centres," said Lehohla.

The study has also revealed a phenomenon described by Lehohla as "the feminisation of poverty" in South Africa.

"Feminisation of poverty. This is where gender becomes more important when we start to feminize poverty. Females are much more exposed to poverty than males - 53 against 57. Of course, if the household is headed by a female, the strength of poverty increases dramatically. We can see a 17 percentage points difference between a female-headed household compared to a male-headed household," said Lehohla.

He said it was very concerning that in South Africa, more children live in poverty than any other age group.

"Children live in poverty much more than everybody else. So how can we think about the future? If children live in poverty more than everybody else, there is no future. Simple and straightforward. The drivers of that poverty [which plunges children into poverty], some of these are social - how we conduct our lives, obviously anchored in the destructive force of apartheid," said Lehohla.

He said in South Africa, statistics show that 60 percent of fathers say they are married while on the other hand, only 31 percent of mothers claim to be married.

"The complex situation in South Africa, if we don't tackle some of these things at that level and deal with them, we are never going to solve the problems of South Africa. Former President [Thabo] Mbeki said we can build all these RDP houses and do all the things, but if we do not deal with the psycho-social issues that inflict South Africa, we are never going to get this right. That's why the moral regeneration movement was created, and unfortunately I don't think we are doing that well," said Lehohla.

The Statistician-General said while he cannot tell people to get married, parents must fulfill their responsibilities to their children.

"Why is it that children must be the poorest? The numbers say so. Children live in poverty."

The Poverty Trends in South Africa report, released on Tuesday, is titled “An examination of absolute poverty between 2006 and 2015”.

Poverty estimates are essential for monitoring and tracking progress towards achieving the poverty targets outlined in government’s National Development Plan (NDP) and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.