“CHILDREN in conflict with the law” was the topic of the speech at the Port Alfred Child Welfare AGM last week given by police station commander Colonel Lizette Zeelie.
She spoke about a new act which defines the criminal capacity of minors. Children up to nine years old have no criminal capacity and cannot be arrested.
“Our society has changed. Little kids are exposed to more things these days,” said Zeelie.
She said children can learn things they are not supposed to from other children at school, from watching cartoons and sometimes at home when the whole family lives in one room. It is important to get these children into a programme to correct their behaviour, which means a case docket should be opened for this to happen.
FOR THE CHILDREN: Child Welfare held their AGM last week where they elected a new committee. From left are member Linda Buchanan, new member Heather Howard, secretary Heather Leicher, chairman Arthur Isaacs, member David Mbona and treasurer Gunther Johannsen Picture: CANDICE BRADFIELD
According to the act, children nine years old and younger do not have a criminal capacity and cannot be arrested. Children between the ages of 10 and 14 years have a criminal capacity and may be arrested depending on circumstances. However they are released into their parents’ custody, she said.
Children between the ages of 15 and 18 years can be arrested as well as detained in a special detention facility if the parents do not want to take responsibility for the child any more, said Zeelie.
She said the police needed to cooperate with other service organisations to work together to prevent children from committing crime in the first place.
“Kids are roaming the streets unsupervised,” she said.
Zeelie said there are no proper facilities or structured programs to keep children busy after school.
“We need to go back to ‘your child is my child,’” she said.
“Don’t we have the responsibility to keep the child on the right path? I do think we can make a difference here.”
Child Welfare treasurer Gunther Johannsen reported that the cluster home has now been running for over a year and that they have had a change of foster mother and a new child living there. They received funds from the Lotto for the home as well as running costs so they will be in good stead for the coming year.
The department of social development provides salary subsidies and they have more donors than last year.
Chairman Arthur Isaacs said he has seen what volunteering can do and that he is proud to put on a Child Welfare T-shirt.
Anyone who would like to help in any way can contact office manager Susan Harty on (046) 624-5739 or (046) 624-1433.