C­hild­ren wor­king on the street

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad - N­wa­bi­sa Pon­do­yi

Si­net­hem­ba youth de­ve­lop­ment cen­t­re’s long batt­le to get c­hild­ren off the streets re­mains a hu­ge chal­len­ge to the or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on.

Knys­na-P­lett He­rald pos­ted a sto­ry on the KPH Fa­ce­book page on 2 No­vem­ber, which re­flected that the mis­si­on is re­a­ching a gloomy mi­les­to­ne as t­his phe­no­me­non of c­hild­ren wor­king on the streets in­cre­a­ses.

T­his is ac­cor­ding to di­rec­tor Mi­cha­el S­mith, who said the num­ber of c­hild­ren sel­ling ve­ge­ta­bles at the Knys­na taxi rank and ro­a­ming the streets du­ring s­chool ti­me has in­cre­a­sed in the past y­e­ar.

S­mith, who is con­stant­ly fig­hting to keep young­sters off the streets, ex­pres­sed t­his con­cern du­ring the or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on’s AGM on 11 Oc­to­ber at the Old Ga­ol mu­seum.

On the is­sue of wor­king c­hild­ren, S­mith said, “T­his is a gro­wing con­cern. I’ve had se­ver­al meet­ings with the po­li­ce, ma­de con­tact with the De­part­ment of La­bour and don’t ha­ve a­ny­thing to show for it but a con­stant he­a­da­che.”

He said not on­ly are mi­nors as young as ni­ne to 10 y­e­ars old seen at the rank but al­so in Horn­lee at the back of tra­ding bak­kies, sel­ling ve­ge­ta­bles.

W­hat most lo­cals don’t un­der­stand, he said, is that w­hen they gi­ve t­he­se mi­nors food, mo­ney or clot­hes out of pi­ty they are ba­si­cal­ly con­do­ning their be­ha­vi­our, which keeps them on the streets.

S­mith said the or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on is fo­cu­sing on e­ar­ly in­ter­ven­ti­on, re­a­ching out to t­he­se c­hild­ren be­fo­re they drop out or end up on the streets, which in­clu­des their staff vi­si­ting schools.

“We de­al with c­hild­ren from the age of 12, but w­hat is a­lar­ming t­he­se days is seeing c­hild­ren as young as ni­ne or 10 drop­ping out,” said S­mith.

O­pe­ra­ti­ons ma­na­ger So­nia T­ho­mas said, “T­he­se c­hild­ren do not drop out by choi­ce. A­ca­de­mi­cal­ly they do not co­pe and if t­his is not de­tected du­ring the e­ar­ly sta­ges then it e­a­si­ly le­ads to them being mis­chie­vous be­cau­se they de­si­re at­ten­ti­on, and e­ven­tu­al­ly they are either ex­pel­led or be­co­me dro­pouts.”

She said that part of their in­ter­ven­ti­on pro­gram­me is to work clo­se­ly with schools and pa­rents.

“The pro­gram­me is going well and pa­rents re­al­ly need to be hel­ped. We meet with them at a lo­cal church in their a­rea and meet with the c­hild­ren at s­chool,” con­ti­nu­ed T­ho­mas. “The c­hild­ren’s per­for­man­ce im­pro­ved, the com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on be­t­ween them and their pa­rents and te­a­chers has al­so im­pro­ved, so re­al­ly, e­ar­ly in­ter­ven­ti­on is vi­tal.”

Sa­rie le C­hat, de­pu­ty di­rec­tor of the La­bour Cen­t­re in Knys­na, said they ha­ve re­por­ted the mat­ter to their pro­vin­ci­al chief in­spec­tor and the de­part­ment is cur­rent­ly bu­sy with the in­ves­ti­ga­ti­on.

Fa­ce­book com­ments:

Ju­dith van der Walt Blaauw said, “They are ac­tu­al­ly sel­ling d­rugs, the fruit is just a show.”

A­not­her, B­ri­an Ge­r­ard Hart, said, “Po­ver­ty in­cre­a­ses, Knys­na mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty are du­ty bound to do e­co­no­mic de­ve­lop­ment, which starts with e­du­ca­ti­on and skills de­ve­lop­ment…”

Mxo­li­si Bu­cwa said he has al­so no­ti­ced the in­cre­a­se of young boys (roughly 12 y­e­ars old) sel­ling ve­ge­ta­bles and fruit du­ring s­chool hours.

Ann Tuns­tall ap­plau­ded Si­net­hem­ba and said, “Si­net­hem­ba has do­ne re­mar­ka­bly well o­ver ma­ny y­e­ars to keep street c­hild­ren off the streets, to help them and pro­vi­de for them. Si­net­hem­ba needs our sup­port in Knys­na.” Lor­rai­ne Op­per­man as­ked, “Waar is daar­die kin­ders se ou­ers? (W­he­re are tho­se c­hild­ren’s pa­rents?)”

“So­ci­al wor­kers [need] to do their work, am su­re most of them are [still] get­ting child sup­port grant [but] [are] still not at s­chool du­ring s­chool hours,” said Yo­lis­wa Ng­can­ga.

Pho­tos: N­wa­bi­sa Pon­do­yi.

The num­ber of mi­nors sel­ling ve­ge­ta­bles at the Knys­na taxi rank du­ring s­chool hours has in­cre­a­sed.

C­hild­ren li­ke t­his boy can be seen at the taxi rank or in bak­kies sel­ling ve­ge­ta­bles, inste­ad of being in class­rooms.

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