A 14-year-old girl from KwaZulu-Natal arrested in connection with the murder of her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend says she would like to finish Grade 7, and be a doctor one day.
The girl, who cannot be named because she’s a minor, was speaking at the launch of Child Protection Week on Sunday at the KwaZulu-Natal Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC), a facility accommodating children in conflict with the law. The children are cared for by the Department of social development.
Deputy Minister of social development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu was at the facility to interact with children.
Spokesperson for the department Lumka Oliphant said during a difficult and emotional session the children tried to freely express themselves by sharing their stories.
She said the girl, who was visibly remorseful, spoke about how she was arrested for murder on January 17 after allegedly stabbing her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
“Since committing this crime, my life has not been the same,” said the girl.
Another child in conflict with the law is a 16-year-old boy arrested for alleged rape. The boy told officials he felt bad about what he did.
“I want to apologise to the girl I raped. What I did is unforgivable,” he said.
Bogopane-Zulu encouraged the children and told them everybody makes mistakes in life.
“Your part is to accept what you have done and forgive yourselves. Do not let this situation define who you are. Through your child youth care workers you can request to speak to those you have done wrong and apologise as you reclaim your lives,” Bogopane-Zulu said.
This, she said, is part of restorative justice, a theory that focuses on reconciling and reintegrating offenders into society rather than on retribution. As part of the provision of the child protection system, the department of social development provides care and reintegration services for children in conflict with the law.
In line with the provision of the Children’s act, the department has established CYCCs to accommodate the children.
The CYCCS serve as residential facilities for children awaiting trial or sentencing and those sentenced in terms of the Child Justice Act.
Oliphant said the Child Protection Week campaign, which is a 365 day campaign, encourages all sectors of society to care for and protect children. It also emphasises the importance of the co-ordinated action needed across a number of fronts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in South Africa.
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu launched the week campaign by highlighting the department’s programme for orphaned and vulnerable children. The annual campaign is commemorated under the theme “Let us Protect Children during Covid-19 and beyond”.