It takes a village to protect kids

2013-10-20 14:00

Yonelisa Mali was just two. Her cousin Zandile Mali was three.

They are dead. Their small bodies dumped in a Diepsloot toilet and their community baying for blood.

Trying to make sense of it is useless. There is no sense here. There is no explanation. There can be no easy answers.

South Africa has some of the most progressive legislation in the world. Our Constitution is a marvel and the Bill of Rights which prefaces it is also a powerful tool – on paper – for keeping our citizens safe, healthy, empowered and happy.

Our children too are protected by this excellent legislation and by the Children’s Act.

But these documents are nothing more than paper tigers, because the adults whose responsibility it is to keep children safe are failing. Miserably.

Lulu Xingwana, the minister of women, children and people with disabilities, said this week that it was time for parents – and particularly mothers – to start taking proper care of their children.

You’re wrong, minister.

The responsibility falls on all of us – on mothers, fathers, neighbours, friends. We can’t keep asking women alone to bear the burden. Mothers can only do so much.

Children can never be safe unless every South African – man and woman – begins to truly live what’s enshrined in the Constitution, which we call among the most progressive in the world.

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