By Konehali Gugushe
In just four months into ’20-plenty’, a year which has been labelled as the year of prosperity and multiplied success, has quickly fallen short of its expectation after the recent incidents of violence against children. It is quite appalling to witness so many cases of viciously dispossessing children off their innocence and right to life in the first quarter of 2020, when the calendar year is still at its core of a fantasy of newness and clean slates.
“We need a more responsible society”, addressing fellow South Africans in a letter published on the 27th of January 2020 on news24 Cyril Ramaphosa | We need a more responsible society, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlights some of the tragic incidents of children’s deaths as a result of negligence and violence. In the letter, President Ramaphosa, urges society to preserve the life of children and protect them. “We need to ensure that children are able to grow up in a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment, so too must we feel a duty to protect and care for all those who we know and interact with”, he remarked.
Following the resoluteness in the intent behind the President’s letter to plunge in concern and urge society to foster and protect the future of this country, an increasing number of incidents of violence continue to surface, with over a 100 cases of violence against children and women reported recently 107 people arrested for gender-based violence and crimes against children in Gauteng. This certainly raises unsettling concern on the state of children in this country, and further drives us to probe deeper for answers to the perplexing question of who is really stepping up for the children in this country?
Amongst other reported and disturbingly violent acts against children, is the recently confirmed arrest (on the 15th of March 2020) of a 42 year old man from Diepkloof, who allegedly sexually violated his children aged 6, 8 and 10 and apparently threatened them not to disclose the incident to anyone (media statement, South African Police Service, Office of the Provincial Commissioner Gauteng). Such is an example of one too many instances of the unsettling reality of most South African children, which has triggered the response of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) together with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) through the relentless efforts to continue prioritising the welfare of children and the youth.
Some of the programmes and initiatives we offer as a fund cater to the establishment of mental and physical wellbeing of children who have suffered traumatic experiences as a form of rehabilitation, which include: children survival developments programme; child safety and protection; youth leadership initiatives as well as sustainable livelihoods project.
To adhere to our vision as Mandela’s Children Legacy organisation(s), which is to strive to change the way society treats its children and youth and to constantly maintain providing a voice and dignity to the African child by building a rights-based movement, we continuously demonstrate nothing but tenacity in our approach to solving critical issues affecting the well-being of children in South Africa.
From dedicating efforts to ensure childhood development, through the child survival development and thriving programme during Pregnancy Awareness Week (in February) which has ensured a total of 17887 women have adhered to their antenatal care - to successfully hosting dialogues aimed at educating and involving men and boys in protecting as well as supporting women and children. This is to ideally refurnish what tat ‘Mandela hoped for, a society which appreciates and sees that “ 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.
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