I will today be writing to Leader of Government Business, Kgalema Motlanthe, to ask him to investigate an apparent attempt by Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini to mislead Parliament.
I will also be asking the Speaker of Parliament, Max Sisulu, to make provision for the Minister to inform the House of how many names are currently on the Child Protection Register at the earliest available opportunity.
At yesterday's Social Protection and Community Development Cluster briefing, it was revealed that there is only one name on the Child Protection Register, despite the Minister and her department informing Parliament on two occasions that this was not the case.
In October 2011, the Department revealed in a reply that there was only one name on the Register, which was confirmed to still be the case at yesterday's briefing.
This means that:
In December 2011, Minister Dlamini gave incorrect information in a parliamentary reply when she stated that there are 22 names on the Child Protection Register; and
in May 2012, the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development and Social Development misrepresented the facts when they updated the Social Development Portfolio Committee on the register, and reported that it contained 438 names.
Either Minister Dlamini is deliberately misleading Parliament or she does not have a grip on what is going on with the Child Protection Register.
This shows contempt for our children, particularly in light of this being Child Protection Month.
Frankly, whether there is one name on it or 438, the Register is a complete mess. How can there be so few names on the Child Protection Register when it is estimated that around 30 000 children per year are victims of sexual abuse?
We want to know exactly how many names are on the Child Protection Register and why the number of entries is not commensurate with the number of crimes committed against children.
The Child Protection Register is supposed to protect children from people found to have abused or neglected a child, and who have been deemed unsuitable to work with children. If the Child Protection Register is dysfunctional there is no way of ensuring that convicted child abusers are prevented from working with children.
The conduct of Minister Dlamini and her department must be investigated. In addition, the Minister must get her facts straight, and give a frank account to Parliament about the state of the Register, and what her department is doing to keep our children safe.
Mike Waters, Shadow Minister of Social Development