Slug: Public Protector
Date: 26 March 2011
Journalist: Kagiso Metswamere
Headline: Public Protector calls for protection of children’s rights
PHOKENG – Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, has urged communities of the North West province to report any suspected disregard for children’s rights by any
organ of state to her office.
Madonsela was speaking during the commemoration of Human Rights Month recently in Phokeng near Rustenburg, with the main focus on the rights of children.
Addressing members of the community at the Phokeng Conference Centre, Madonsela said the state had a responsibility to listen, account for its actions and rectify the problems promptly when people complain.
“I would like to call on communities not to hesitate to report any suspected disregard for
children’s rights by competent organs of state such as the Department of Social Development, the South African Social Security Agency, the police, schools and hospitals or clinics, among others.
“It is important that if you do not get joy from these institutions, my office will be there to assist you,” she said.
The office of the Public Protector in the country gets involved when organs of state tend to disregard people’s rights.
Madonsela said her office would not hesitate to come into the picture when competent organs of state fail to give the public the assistance they ought to provide or when they carry out their functions in a manner that prejudices people or constitutes abuse of power.
The office of the Public Protector has 20 walk-in regional offices across the country.
Madonsela advised the community of North West to utilise these offices should they have any complaints to lodge about government services or conduct.
The Public Protector emphasised that their ultimate goal was to strengthen constitutional democracy by promoting good governance, adherence to human rights and respect for the rule of law.
“When the people complain, it is the responsibility of the state to listen, to account for its actions and to promptly rectify the problem.
“My role is therefore to ensure that this happens. However, at the end of the day, the affected citizen must be satisfied and there must be measures put in place to ensure that the problem does not recur,” she said.
She appealed to schools to, not only help raise awareness about the existence of her office and its services, but also to play a role in helping with the protection of children’s
During the event, more than 60 complaints relating to service delivery at municipal level were registered for investigation.
Tufo Nxumalo, a resident of Robega village, is one of the people who lodged a complaint with the Public Protector about the local police station which he said failed to deal with his case properly.
Nxumalo said they were recently forcefully removed from their land by the Royal Bafokeng Administration, and that the police failed to deal with their case satisfactorily.
“I am glad that the Public Protector is here today to listen to our grievances.
“It has just been explained to us what Public Protector’s office does and where we can
get help when we need it,” he said.
While in Rustenburg, the Public Protector paid a visit to the Tlhabane SOS Children’s Village, where she talked with some of the village’s 80 children about their rights.
During Human Rights Day celebrations at the Athlone Stadium, in Cape Town recently, President Jacob Zuma said government would continue to make every effort to ensure South Africans were able to enjoy their human rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
"We must work together to achieve a society where millions more have decent employment opportunities... to achieve a society where all children, urban and rural, go to decent schools with the right equipment and facilities as well as qualified, motivated teachers.
"We want a South Africa where hospitals and clinics have adequate medicines, doctors, nurses and other professionals. We must work together towards a country where there is access to water, sanitation, electricity, good roads and recreational facilities," said Zuma during Human Rights Day celebrations.