Pretoria — Rape and murder of children happening across South Africa remains a serious public challenge, says Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya.
Speaking at the National Children's Day celebration on Saturday, Mayende-Sibiya called on families and communities to work together with government to stop this plague which undermines children's rights.
"Even more disturbing is that some of the crimes against children are committed by family members who are supposed to protect children.
"This situation cannot be allowed to continue. We have to mobilise communities and all sectors of our society to work together to protect children and women from violence," said Mayende-Sibiya.
She said government was aware of the problems affecting children especially human trafficking and was doing everything in its possible to put an end to this scourge.
"I must assure you that Government is not sitting back and we are tackling this scourge. Efforts are being taken to address this problem including the development of a law to make it easy to arrest and convict people involved in human trafficking.
"We can't allow a situation where our children continuously go missing. Children should feel safe in schools, at home, parks and shops," she said.
The minister added that the entire nation have an obligation to ensure that children grow in safe environments.
"The family, as the fundamental structure of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community," she said.
While there were major challenges around the safety of children, Minister Mayende-Sibiya maintained that government was making significant progress on expanding social services for children.
Over eight million children in need were now receiving the child support grants. From January next year, the age limit for children who are eligible for this grant will increase from 14 to 15 years.
From January 2011 the child support grant will be extended to 16-year olds and it will rise to the 17-year-olds on 1 January 2012.
"In total, the extension of age limit in the provision of social grants is expected to benefit an additional 2 million children from poor households.
"The estimated total cost will be R1.3 billion, R2.6 billion and R3.5 billion respectively over the three-year period," the minister added.
The department and its stakeholders will on 24 November launch the Campaign on 16 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children to mobilise society to participate in stopping the unacceptably high levels of crime against children and women.