By TOTO TSARNEBA
Child abuse is a multifaceted problem that requires comprehensive interventions from all sectors. This year’s Child Protection Week, commemorated from 29 May to 4 June, was themed “Let us protect children during COVID-19 and Beyond”.
The Methodist Church Circuit 201 commemorated the week at Soccer City on 4 June to build awareness about the prevention and management of child abuse, negligence, and exploitation.
Pastor MD Makhumsha from the Methodist church Circuit 201 said children needed protection and to be taken seriously. “Children are a gift from God. We should always love and protect them. As parents, we often forget this fact. Let us protect these gifts 365 days a year.”
Makhanda Brotherhood chairperson Siyanda Kelele said they attended the event to share the pain many children and women endure without receiving protection from their fathers and brothers. He said as the Brotherhood wanted to show that “not all men are trash”, as they were sometimes labelled. “We are the good guys. We fight against GBV, and we are here to tell these children that they can still trust us. We are here to protect them because they matter,” he said.
Brotherhood organiser Anele Matika said he was happy to see children being celebrated because they would realise they were loved. He said the Child Protection Week was a moment for him to reflect and bring back memories of those who suffered when they were left without protection.
Constable Mziyanda Maqhubela, talking on behalf of the Makhanda Police Station, encouraged children who attended the event to study and remain respectful to their elders. He said that children must always seek assistance and report something they suspect to be a form of abuse.
“Report everything – as a police officer, I am here to protect you. Abuse is intolerable.”
Zubiara Hasenberg encouraged children to speak openly to parents: “We are more than happy to assist you and guide you through everything you come across in this journey of living,” she said.
Noncedo Ntenteni from the St John’s Society told the children they should report abuse and protect peers who are victims. To the parents, she said they need to be observant and see children having problems. “Let us open our hands so our children can trust us,” she said.
Eluxolweni Child and Youth Care Centre social worker Phindiwe Kobi said she appreciated Child Protection Week as she celebrates the children who stay with her. She said it was a busy week at Eluxolweni as they collaborated with St Andrew’s and Fikizolo High School in various programmes.