Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund calls for immediate ousting of Western Cape municipal mayor and his deputy
The appointment of the Western Cape’s newly elected municipal mayor and convicted child rapist, Jeffrey Donson, further points at the gaps in the South African legislation and sends a scathing message of our country’s complicity in perpetuating violence against children and women.
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) therefore joins the calls for the immediate removal of Donson and his deputy, Werner Meshoa.
Donson was reportedly convicted of statutory rape while he was mayor of Kannaland in 2008, while Meshoa, a convicted fraudster, lost his job as a teacher after being found guilty of sexual misconduct with a pupil.
The Fund calls for the re-listing of Donson and Meshoa on the Sex Offenders list and for the strengthening of legislation to protect children from sexual predators holding public office.
The CEO of the Fund, Konehali Gugushe, says that it is perturbing that Donson and Meshoa were even allowed to stand for public office again. “This shows a loophole in our country’s legislation and promotes the protection of convicted perpetrators over that of children and women at the receiving end of the sexual assault.”
Gugushe continues, “As a country known as the rape capital of the world and where cases of rape, abuse and sexual assault, among others, remain underreported, South Africa should stand firm against perpetuating fears that the justice system favours perpetrators. Donson and Meshoa both demonstrate that these fears are valid. We cannot afford to send this message to vulnerable women and children.”
On Thursday, 18 November 2021, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) hosted a webinar to discuss gaps related to the Children’s Amendment Bill.
The discussion revealed gaps in the legislation informed by the Fund’s oral and written submissions to parliament last year.
The Chief Programmes Officer at the Fund, Dr Stanley Maphosa says that in its submission, the Fund had called for measures to improve the efficacy of the National Child Protection register. “This is a significant step in ensuring that child abuse perpetrators will be precluded from assuming positions in public office or environments where children are potentially exposed to their presence. Furthermore, it will ensure that names of child sex offenders are never removed from the list, to ensure proper screening of individuals to promote the safety of children,” says Maphosa.
Maphosa adds, “There is also a need to ensure that legislation is not far removed from implementation on the ground which is often the case and an issue that was raised by children the Fund had engaged on matters related to gaps in the Children’s Amendment Bill.”
In addition, the Fund strongly condemns the comments of provincial chairperson, David Kamfer, from the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa)’s, the party of the two convicts, who was quoted in the media defending Donson by stating that he had no knowledge of the minor’s age and assumed that she was of legal age at the time.
In response, Maphosa says, “This argument is highly dangerous, legally indefensible and as such, individuals should refrain from using it as justification.”
Gugushe says that inaction in the removal of Donson and Meshoa would be an indictment on South African society. “Abuse against children does not occur in isolation. It occurs when communities do nothing, when perpetrators are allowed to take advantage of the justice system and when we all act as spectators. As media coverage around this issue dwindles, and as the justice system goes unchallenged, we should all be aware of the hand we play in retaining the violent status of our country.”
Understanding 16 Days of Activism: the Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: moving from Awareness to Accountability
Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation. – Nelson Mandela (22 November 1997)
Founded by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991, the Global 16 Days Campaign celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. 16 Days of Activism annually kicks off on the 25th of November. The campaign will run up until the 10th of December. Throughout the years, the campaign has had various themes to focus on. In 2020, the main focus stemmed from amplifying the voices of women workers in the informal economy. This year, the global theme emphases advocacy against gender-based violence (GBV) against women and violence against children.. In South Africa, the theme is the Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: moving from awareness to accountability. This is a step forward in dealing with violence against women and children.
Combatting Violence against Women and ChildrenIt goes without saying that society needs to take accountability for these heinous crimes against humanity. When South Africa became a part of the 16 Days of Activism in 1998, the key reason was to bring awareness to some of the brutal issues we face.
There are ways we can combat violence against women and children, namely:
Child Safety and ProtectionOur Child Safety and Protection (CSP) Programme was created to ensure a safer and securer environment for the youth particularly in schools and their communities. CSP is currently running in Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo and Western Cape. The aims of the programme are to dismantle corporal punishment and bullying in schools and putting an end to gender-based violence against women and girls.
Previously, the Fund had implemented a programme called Sexual Violence in Schools in South Africa (SeVISSA) which empowers girls in schools to deal with and acknowledge issues of sexual violence. It is operational in the four provinces, namely Limpopo, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. However, the call to address several other issues mentioned, encouraged a broader programme, CSP, to encompass the troubles our youth face within spaces that should be considered safe environments for them.
The Fund continues to work with organisations to ensure the rehabilitations for young perpetrators. More so, providing support to children who have fallen victim of sexual abuse, bullying and corporal punishment. Psychosocial support training for children, educators and parents or caregivers is offered by the Fund alongside the organisations. CSP also affords women and girls with entrepreneurial skills and economic strengthening activities to generate independence and income for themselves.
We at the Fund strive to keep Tata Madiba’s dream alive by ensuring that the children of our nation are protected within schools and their communities. Education is key, in that it eradicates the rise of poverty and GBV. They are the future, and we need to safeguard the future of South Africa. With this year’s theme, we must ensure that accountability is considered in order for change to come. This is to ensure that we can live in a society where victims and survivors become safe and preventing any future perpetuators of violence.
What are you actively doing during your 16 Days of Activism for the protection of women and children?
Twin sisters Aimeé Serrão and Candace Bosch are passionate about the youth, their country, and bringing a smile to children's faces. Through a proudly South African children’s book called “Paintbrush’s Colour”, Aimeé and Candace hope to spread positivity while educating the youth in a fun and inspiring way.
“Paintbrush's Colour" has educational questions at the end of the book where children can learn the Big 5, the five national symbols and more!
Aimee and Candace both have two sons. It was their children that inspired them to write this story during the hard lockdown period that South Africa faced.
“We are giving a percentage of the sales to the NMCF. Their dedication to helping children is not only admirable, but it is also inspiring. To be able to contribute to this cause is a dream come true for both of us” - Candace Bosch
“My son was born with Hirschsprung Disease. Dr Andrew Grieve, the Head of General Paediatric Surgery at the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital, saved his life. So, giving a percentage of sales to help their cause is a small way to say thank you to him, his team, and the foundation as a whole for all they do for our youth” - Aimeé Serrão
Get your copy of the amazing “Paintbrush’s Colour” here.
On Thursday, 18 November 2021, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) will host a webinar to discuss gaps related to the Children’s Amendment Bill.
Entitled, “The Children’s Amendment Bill: Age and Consent - Important gaps remain unaddressed,” the discussion will be moderated by media personality, Joanne Joseph, and will include the CEO of the Fund, Konehali Gugushe, as well as a range of expert in children’s rights, child law, and implementation partners of the Fund.
Sponsored by Nedbank, the virtual event will run between 17:30 – 19:30 and will be open to the public and media.
The Fund is the first legacy organisation founded by former president Nelson Mandela in 1995 with a vision to change the way society treats its children and youth. A social development agency, the Fund’s work includes lobbying and advocacy to influence policy to improve the lives of children in the country and the region.
The webinar follows submissions made by the Fund last year to parliament on gaps in the Children’s Amendment Bill No 38 of 2005. Gugushe says that the Children’s Act, 2005 and the Children’s Amendment Bill are important pieces of legislation that cut across various children’s rights issues and the event will provide an opportunity to further interrogate these together with partners in the children’s rights sector.
Says Gugushe, “Issues related to consent are quite complex and have to be balanced against full understanding from a child’s perspective, different cultural and social contexts but ultimately ensuring that the rights of children are not compromised in this process. As an organisation, it is our mission to facilitate these discussions and to ensure that civil society’s voice is heard together with the voices of children in informing legislation that governs their lives.”
In its written and oral submissions to parliament, the Fund commended the efforts made by the South African government in reviewing this legislation as an important step in improving children’s rights in the country. “Through this process, we were able to highlight pertinent gaps in legislation, chief among these were inconsistences in the thresholds of age where arguments of age and consent are in direct contradiction to the protection of children’s rights. This suggests that we then need strengthen legislation and coordinate ourselves as civil society in this process,” says Gugushe.
Nedbank is a long-standing partner of the Fund and has supported the organisation since its inception in advancing its mission. In recent years for instance, the bank has collaborated with the Fund on various initiatives such as the primary healthcare vaccination drive called #VaxtheNation, for children under the age of five, through the Fund’s Child Survival, Development and Thriving programme.
Group Executive at Nedbank, Khensani Nobanda, says, “As a financial services provider that does good in the economy and society at large, Nedbank, through a wide range of impactful projects, is passionate about sowing into the future generations of our country. Through the Nedbank Children’s Affinity Programme we have donated over R110 million by offering our loyal customers a powerful way to invest in the wellbeing of our children. At absolutely no cost to customers, the Programme allows them to support the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund’s strategic programmes, as they go about their normal daily banking and investing with Nedbank. In sponsoring the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund CEO Forum webinar today, Nedbank realises the urgent need to close important gaps that remain unaddressed by The Children’s Amendment Bill.”
Media personality Joanne Joseph says that it is an honour for her to moderate the discussion. “This event will go a long way in bringing together expert views and to interrogate legislation as well as how far our country has come in truly protecting and promoting the rights of children. I am looking forward to the inputs of the panellists as well as the broader participation.”
According to Gugushe, the period for the discussion is also of significance. “In November we celebrated National Children’s Day and will soon celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which will then be followed by the 16 Days of Activism for Violence against Women and Children. We therefore want to advance these discussions during this period while promoting issues of safety through our ongoing programme work and through forums for advocacy.”
The events panellists will include:
The public can register on the following link to participate in the event at no charge: https://nmcfceoforum.liveevent.co.za/
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