By Anees Teladia
Social media has erupted with outcry recently, with the release of videos depicting scenes of violent child abuse at an early childhood development (ECD) centre in South Africa. This comes after another incident relating to the abuse and neglect of children resulted in a toddler reported missing, being found dead in a drain days ago.
Joining VOC to address the important issue of child safety at educational and care facilities for children, Minister of Social Development in the Western Cape, MEC Albert Fritz asserted that the “Children’s Act is a very powerful Act” that exists for the protection of children.
“We have a Children’s Act. The Children’s Act controls the whole Department of Social Development because our biggest budgets and programmes concern children.”
“In terms of the Children’s Act, that woman [the one depicted in the violent videos spreading online] can get up to 20 years [in prison],” said Fritz.
In terms of protecting children and ensuring suitability and safety when leaving them in the care of these ECD centres, Fritz offered some insight into how safety can be increased and how to promote a culture of spot-checks on children in these care facilities.
“There’s a number of stringent conditions before being registered as an ECD centre,” said Fritz.
“The Department of Social Development has the registry of all those who abuse children, so from there we can see who is not fit.”
“I always advise parents to check whether the place they put their children is registered. I’m talking about ECD registration…you as a parent can pop visit at any time. There’s no law saying you can’t.”
Fritz expressed disgust at the viral videos which surfaced online.
“The person who took the videos must also be charged because it only came out now and yet was taken some time ago. They [the people who recorded] were essentially complicit,” said Fritz.
“All of us who watched it [the videos] instantly got very angry. They [the adults in the videos] must be sent to prison for a long time.”
South Africa is a country with no shortage of women and child abuse. As such, these videos illustrate the horrific reality that some children face daily, in the centres that are meant to nurture and protect them.