MEC for Social Development in the Eastern Cape Pemmy Majodina has called on fathers to play a more meaningful role in raising their children.
Majodina was speaking during the launch of her department’s child protection week campaign at Step Ahead Daycare in East London today.
She said 9 million children around the country were growing up without their fathers, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations, placing a burden on mothers and the state.
“I am making a call to all men to take a responsibility in the care and protection of their children,” Majodina said.
Majodina painted a bleak picture of the circumstances of the country’s children (under 18 years) who make up 39% of the total population.
She said according to the South African Child Institute, based in Cape Town, the Eastern Cape had the third largest number of children at 2.7 million, after Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, which have 3.4 million and 4.1 million respectively.
She said 53% of children in the Eastern Cape live in rural areas and 7% live in informal settlements.
Most orphaned and vulnerable children in the country are found in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and accounted for 27% of the child population in their respective provinces.
“These statistics reflect the negative effects of underdevelopment, especially among African children,” she said.
While 1.8 million children in the Eastern Cape depended on social grants, poverty levels were still high and the young ones barely coped.
Majodina said the child protection week should be taken as an opportunity, “for all of us to build partnerships and ensure that children are protected from abuse and vulnerability”.
The MEC bemoaned gender-based violence directed at women and children, which she attributed to the deterioration of the social fabric.
“Our children look up to us to fight these horrible inhumane crimes against them,” she said.