A Children’s Commissioner in every province is a game changer in the protection of children’s rights

As the nation observes 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, the Democratic Alliance (DA) renews our calls for the establishment of a Children’s Commissioner in every province.

The Children’s Commissioner (https://web.facebook.com/ChildrensCommissionerWC) in the Western Cape, Ms. Christina Nomdo, took office on 1 June 2020 in the pandemonium of the global Coronavirus pandemic and the hardest stages of the national lockdown. Ms Nomdo has hit the ground running and has made great strides.

In a short period of time Ms Nomdo set up a governance unit comprising of fifty Child Government Monitors who were nominated by their peers as well as by child rights organisations. This unit communicates on a daily basis using the WhatsApp messaging app on issues affecting children in real time reporting.

Ms Nomdo has submitted submissions on; 1) the Children’s Act, 2) the African Peer Review Mechanism with a focus on secondary education and 3) to the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child with a focus on parenting support by government because all children are worthy of love and protection.

In two months during level 1 lockdown, October – November 2020, Ms Nomdo, held nine Community Children Rights Workshops in the rural areas of the West Coast District reaching Stofkraal and Molsvlei on the border of the Northern Cape. This is the same number of capacity building workshops on the National Plan of Action for Children which the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) had for the entire 2019/20 year.

The National Planning Commission (NPC) in September 2015 included children in the development of the National Development Plan – children were previously excluded from this process. The NPC identified children as an important stakeholder group, partly because they will be the adult population in the future. Children play an intrinsic part of society and it is important to elicit the children’s views on their future.

The DSD 2019 National Child Care and Protection Policy goal is that “[all] children in South Africa receive a continuum of the developmental care and protection services they need in an enabling and supportive environment to survive, development to their full potential, be protected from violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination, and participate in decisions that affect them.”

The establishment of a Children’s Commissioner across the country will see national policy implemented as the state plays a secondary role in the protection of children’s rights with parents and caregivers as the primary protectors.

A Children’s Commissioner in every province has the potential of speeding up government response to violence and abuse against children. The DSD has a Child Protection System in that any caring South African, adult or child, can report abuse to any DSD office, Childline, SAPS or child protection NGO. The report is logged and a social worker is assigned to the case for investigation and action through psycho-social support services or via the judicial court system.

Government systems are often overloaded, slow, backlogged and all the while the child suffers. A Children’s Commissioner is an additional layer of support to children in the Child Protection System as the Commissioner will intervene where there are systemic or strategic challenges as well as monitor cases.

The Western Cape Government is determined to see the Office of Children’s Commissioner grow in its mandate to deliver with a financial budget of R8 million this financial year and with the further employment of three investigation and advice personnel to strengthen service delivery to children.

The incredible service of a Children’s Commissioner should be a government service all South African children and parents should have access to and not only those living in the Western Cape. We call on the Premiers in the various provinces to set up this service in their office.

Imagine the impactful difference a Children’s Commissioner would have in every province across South Africa. It would be government policy in action.

Report neglect or abuse of a child:

Childline: 08000 55 555

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