'Look after children over festive season'
20 December 2012
As festive season celebrations get into full swing around South Africa, the Justice
and Constitutional Development Department has called on parents to take care of
their children and not neglect them during the festivities.
"While the focus is correctly on safety driving measures and reducing fatalities on
the roads during the festive season, the nation should not lose sight of those wailing
voices of children abandoned by their parents and family members," the department's
Mthunzi Mhaga said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The welfare of our children should also be considered as we once again, together
with our associates, friends and family blissfully glide through the traditional giving
spirit of the festive season," he said.
There is a compelling need for collective action to encourage parents to support
their children at all times."
Under the South African Constitution every child has a right to
basic nutrition, shelter, health care and social services.
'Championing the maintenance of children'
There should be more people championing the maintenance of children for the
country's prosperity, the department said.
It has identified child maintenance as one of its key service delivery priorities in an
effort to deal with the abuse of children as a result of parental and family withdrawal
of social support.
"A maintenance turnaround strategy aimed at enhancing the quality of services at
these offices has been developed and piloted with greater success in areas with high
volume of applications," the department said.
"The strategy will minimise the time spent on queues, strengthen the investigation
process used in tracing maintenance defaulters, and improve the payment system to
ensure that rightful beneficiaries are paid in time.
"The strategy will also change the experience of applicants at
offices and see the appointment of capable maintenance investigators to ensure that
those who neglect their responsibility to support their children are brought to book,"
Guided by the Maintenance Act - which brought much desired efficiency, reduced
loopholes in the system and introduced several tighter mechanisms to enforce
payments - the strategy will improve the lives of the beneficiaries and contribute
towards the fight against poverty.
"These improvements in the system should encourage parents and family members to
apply for maintenance at their nearest magistrate courts so that all children are able
to attend to school dressed and nourished for the benefit of the country," Mhaga
"There is nothing wrong in savouring the merriment of this Santa moment while
anticipating a prosperous future, but let's also remember to invite children into the
jamboree and include them in our plans for tomorrow."