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State set to tackle child labour

Monday 09 April 2013  I  For immediate release

LUYOLO MKENTANE – Labour Department says it’ll make a major announcement regarding its plans for the abuse SOUTH Africa has some of the most progressive labour laws and labour practices in the world yet child labour continues to persist in the country.

The government is committed to eradicating this scourge and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is due to make a major announcement on the issue next month. Thembinkosi Mkalipi, chief director of labour relations at the department, said the minister’s report would look at child labour in the country and what the department was doing to address it. On National Child Labour Day last week, labour fed- eration Co satu said there were about 850 0 00 children employed by the taxi industry alone. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that it is a criminal offence to employ a child below the age of 15, “except if you have a permit from the department to employ children in the performing arts”.

The act states that children aged 15 to 18 may not be employed to do work that is inappropriate for their age or work that places them at risk. We have hope in the Anti-Human Trafficking Bill, and are waiting for President Jacob Zuma to sign it into law Co satu president Sdumo Dlamini has said they would intensify their campaign against child labour, which he described a crisis that needed to be stopped. Oliphant announced in July last year that a total of 90 000 children had been injured at work that year. A study found that 121 000 children were engaged in market economic activities in 2010. A total of 4.3 million schoolgoing children had been absent on five or more days since the beginning of the school year in 2012. Of that number, 59 00 0 cited a workrelated reason for their absenteeism.

Another sector to blame for the child labour scourge was agriculture, where more than 200 000 children were employed, the department’s 2010 statistics revealed. Childline Gauteng director Lynne Cawood said they had fielded a total of 11 483 calls pertaining to child labour in the past 12 months. Some of the cases pertained to children begging on the streets with their parents; child prostitution; child vendors; domestic child labour and pornography, Cawood said. 850000: kids employed by the taxi industry 200000: children in the agriculture sector 121000: youngsters engaged in market economic activities in 2010 59000: school-going children absent on five or more days in 2012 due to work-related issues 11483: calls fielded by Childline from April last year to last month, pertaining to child labour QUICK FACTS She said: “That sounds really bad, but this doesn’t mean to say there are 11483 children involved in child labour, it’s just a number of calls pertaining to that.” She said child labour was a controversial issue, and it was difficult to quantify how many children were involved in child labour.

Poverty was obviously one of the main reasons children became vulnerable to child labour. The scourge of HIV-Aids also forced a number of children to take “a lot of responsibility” in their homes, with their sick parents unable to care for themselves. The Salvation Army’s public relations secretary, Maj Carin Holmes, said statistics on child labour were few. Holmes said: “For some reason people don’t report it, but we know it’s happening because we have fielded calls on our hotline (0 80 0 073728) of kids being used and abused.” She said their role as the Salvation Army was to create awareness. “The more we create awareness, the more we hope this will be prevented.” “We call on the public to look around and report cases where children are being used and abused,” Holmes said. “We have hope in the AntiHuman Trafficking Bill, before Parliament, and are waiting for President Jacob Zuma to sign it into law. It will help a lot in addressing child labour.” Childline can be reached on 0 800 0 55 555.


The Southern Africa Territory of The Salvation Army encompasses four countries – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland – and the island of St Helena. Its officers, soldiers and full-time employees provide their spiritual and community services through approximately 230 corps (churches), societies and outposts, as well as through schools, hospitals, institutions for children, street children, the elderly, men and abused women, and daycare, goodwill, rehabilitation and social centres.


Media Contact: Ruth Coggin
Tel: 011-487-0026
Cell: 082-903-5819
Click here to e-mail Ruth
Client Contact: Major Carin Holmes
Public Relations Secretary
Tel: 011-718-6745
Cell: 082-994-4351
Click here to e-mail Carin