Wednesday, 02 August 2017

Makhado, Limpopo Province, 02 August 2017:  The delegation from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in Zimbabwe that is in the country for a bi-lateral meeting with the Department of Social Development, had an opportunity to listen to the heart breaking stories of the Zimbabwean children living in South Africa and classified as unaccompanied minors.

On their third day of the five day mission, they spent the day at the Tshitandanani Child and Youth Care Centre situated in a village called Tshikota in Makhado. The children related their reasons for crossing the South African border illegally.

*Johannes Dube (16) and *Simon Jikiza (15) are two of the 15 boys who live at the centre. Johannes came to South Africa because his parents were unemployed in Zimbabwe and believed that he could get a better education in South Africa.

He is now in Grade 7 and crossed the Musina Beit Bridge border into South Africa in 2013.

He told the delegation that both his parents back home were unemployed and could not afford his school fees while in South Africa he can attend school for free.

*Simon from Mashingo village in Zimbabwe also crossed the border illegally in 2016, after losing both his parents.

He said he tried to sell eggs in Zimbabwe but this proved to be unsustainable and he decided to rather come to South Africa.

“From Masvingo village to Beit Bridge is about 288 kilometres and I walked with a plan of going wherever I can survive and find a better life,” said Simon.

Simon is now in Grade 8 and wants to write his life story so that countries can understand the plight of children in Zimbabwe.

Both the children are adamant that they are better and safer living at the Tshitandanani Child Care Centre.

Tshitandanani Child Care Centre was established in 1999 by the Roman Catholic Church to accommodate children living in the streets around Makhado.

Between 2007 and 2008, South Africa experienced an unprecedented influx of unaccompanied and separated children from Zimbabwe who came to Makhado looking for job opportunities, their family members or just a protective environment and educational opportunities.

In 2008, the Department of Social Development assisted the centre to comply with norms and standards of Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCC) and was registered as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) in 2012.

In 2016, the centre with the assistance of the Limpopo Provincial Department of Social Development, it managed to trace and reunite two children with their families in Zimbabwe.

South Africa through the Children’s Act, the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child and the African Charter on the Rights of the child, is obligated to look after all children within its borders. The two Governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Social Development to look into Social Security, Welfare Services, community Development and unaccompanied and separated minors.

The delegation will be at the Polokwane Welfare Centre, Nelson Mandela Drive on Seshego Road tomorrow (August 3, 2017) from 9am and will end at Mary Moodley Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC) in Gauteng on Friday.

*Note: The names of children used in this statement are not their real names.


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