Child offenders: Only 500 on list

2013-03-14 00:00

PARLIAMENT— Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini battled yesterday to explain why there were fewer than 500 offenders’ names on the Child Protection Register (CPR).

Responding to a question in the National Assembly, she told MPs the names of people convicted of crimes against children were entered into the register.

The CPR was established in 2005. It requires that people “deemed unsuitable to work with or have contact with children” have their names added to the list, to ensure children are protected.

Democratic Alliance MP Mike Waters was not satisfied with Dlamini’s reply. In a follow-up question to the minister, he told the House that the quality of her reply “reflects the quality of the information on the Child Protection Register: absolutely non-existent”.

Waters said it was clear the intention of the act was to ensure “automatic findings of unsuitability, and immediate placement [of names] on the Child Protection Register”. But this was not happening.

“Minister, you and your department continue to fail our children by ensuring that all those guilty of these heinous crimes do not appear on the [register]. That’s why we have under 500 names on this list. Can you explain to this House why this is the case?”

Dlamini, to loud heckling from opposition benches, said government believed “we are doing our best to tackle the issues of children”. The protection of children was not about “having laws and laws and laws”. It was about ensuring communities took care of children, “because it’s not only the responsibility of government to look after children”.

She said her department was trying to link the CPR with a register maintained by the Department of Justice “because that is where the problem is”.

Dlamini warned that government had to be “very careful” about the names placed on the register, because the state could be sued if this information was not correct.

At this point, DA Chief Whip Watty Watson leaped to his feet and called on Speaker Max Sisulu to compel Dlamini to explain why there were less than 500 names on the CPR.

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