Albert Fritz, Western Cape MEC for Social Development
In the past few weeks, there has been a number of child abuse cases reported to and responded to by the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD).
Among these cases were the dumping of a baby in Gugulethu, the alleged abuse of 12 children in Worcester, and the alleged rape of two girls from Bishop Lavis and Tafelsig.
These abhorrent acts have no place in our society and it is the role of each and every single one of us to report child abuse and neglect to the SAPS, immediately, wherever it rears its ugly head.
The department’s response to these cases has varied depending on the needs of the child. The DSD’s support has included an assessment of the needs of the victims, psycho-social support including trauma counselling and, where necessary, temporary alternative care placement.
My department prioritises child protection, and Section 28 of the Constitution above all else. Section 28 outlines a child’s rights and notes that a child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning them.
For this reason, the department has dedicated R246.8 million towards child protection services in 2019/20 financial year.
The DSD has also been championing the family restoration programme to restore stability to dysfunctional family homes.
This programme has taken 70 young people off the street, reduced backlogs in child and youth care centres to just 2%, and reduced court backlogs on matters relating to child protection and foster care.
Additionally, my department will be expanding the Isibindi Programme from eight catchment areas to 10 sites in the new financial year.
The Isibindi Programme caters for the needs of children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/Aids.
These catchment areas include a network of sites, drop in centres, after school facilities, and child and youth diversion programmes.
The Eye on the Child Programme, which brings specialist child protection social workers closer to the communities that need them, will also be expanding its services to nine additional sites in the Eden-Karoo, Overberg-Winelands, Metro East and West Coast regions. This will enhance interventions which address child abuse and neglect through a coordinated response where risk is identified.
Under my leadership, the Western Cape DSD will continue to fight against child abuse and neglect; while protecting the most vulnerable young people in our society.