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Speaker notes: Lt Gen Mgwenya at "Take a child to work" event in Gauteng

Programme Director
Deputy National Commissioners and members of senior management
All other members and personnel of the SAPS
Teachers of the schools present
Our learners

Good morning to you all. It is that time of the year again where we are presented with an opportunity to inspire children to be the best that they can be.  This is an opportunity we dare not take lightly; therefore I am grateful to stand before these vibrant young people today. Like many young people, I faced certain obstacles growing up, but learnt to rise above the social ills and challenges that confronted me, with sheer determination and hard work.

Having participated in the ‘Take a girl child to work’ initiative from Cell C, over the course many years, we have  tried our best to actively participate in touching young women’s lives so that they can learn that they are not inferior to men. We have now taken it to the next level by including boys in this initiative as we felt that our male learners should not be left behind.

Together moving forward with men, we have to look at a South Africa where we treat each other with respect and dignity and that we move away from the male-dominating nature of society. The superiority complex must fall, and we must cultivate and embrace a society which says that whether you are a boy or a girl, you are afforded equal opportunities to excel in what you choose to do in life.

Young ladies and gentlemen, the SAPS is a huge organisation and it offers many different, challenging and exciting careers for dynamic and vibrant young people such as yourselves, as you will see today. We would like to present this organisation as an ideal employer that will indeed be willing to offer you a career opportunity of which you can be proud.  It is up to you as young people to become who and what you want to become in your chosen career fields.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proof to all you here today that you can make it to the top echelons in any given career, if you work really hard. I can tell you that without commitment and hard work, you can never achieve your dreams. Learn from those who came before you. You must listen to your elders, be humble and respectful. Education plays a very important role in enabling you to have a better future. Use it, and use all the opportunities available to you to improve yourselves, your knowledge and your skills.

You should know that unfortunately, many young people find themselves in abusive relationships. Some are abused at home by people they know and who are supposed to protect them. It is crucial that you learn that although relationships are important, relationships must be healthy and beneficial to you as a person.  Relationships should never harm or hurt you.

Having a professional relationship with a teacher where the teacher reprimands you when your homework is not done, is a healthy relationship. Once there is abuse and corporal punishment, the relationship deteriorates to becoming unhealthy. As a young person, if you know of toxic relationships at home and in our communities which involve abuse, you have the responsibility to report these crimes to the police.

Our event comes at a time when we observe the Child Protection Week from 27 May to 3 June which we also take very seriously as the South African Police Service.

The National Child Protection Week is marked annually to raise awareness for the rights of children.  It aims to mobilise all sectors of society to care for and protect children. The Bill of Rights in the Constitution specifically states that every child has a right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse, or degradation.  South Africa has also drafted legislation to protect children based on the United Nations Convention of the rights of the child and the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child.

Protection is further reinforced through the Children’s Act which emphasises the state’s role in the provision of social services to strengthen the capacity of families and communities to care for and protect children.  The Child Justice Act (Act No. 75 of 2008) establishes a separate criminal justice system for children who have come in conflict with the law.  The Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act (Act No.32 of 2007) includes a wide range of crimes that commonly occur against children. 

The Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act (Act 7 of 2013) deals with the global phenomena of child trafficking.  Despite the protection enshrined in our Constitution our children remain vulnerable to all manner of criminality. The protection of children is every adult’s responsibility. What many fail to understand is that protecting children is protecting and preserving the future of this beautiful country.

Girls and boys in our midst, I am proud to say that the SAPS is committed to fighting crime in all its evil forms. This year is the year of prioritising crimes against women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups who are at risk of becoming the victims of crime. The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units, play an important role in ensuring that those who harm you, are brought to book.

There are currently 183 FCS Units with specialist detectives to investigate gender-based, violent crimes. This includes sexual offences, with the focus on serial rape- related cases, child pornography and crimes facilitated through the electronic media.  Furthermore, the SAPS has established 1 047 dedicated, victim-friendly facilities at police stations countrywide to accommodate and assist the victims of these crimes.  During the 2017/18 financial year, 692 life sentences have been handed down, the perpetrators of these crimes were sentenced to a total of 30 521 years’ imprisonment and 3 234 dockets were registered. All these cases relate to violent crimes committed against women and children.

Ladies and gentlemen, the way in which we investigate these sophisticated and sensitive crimes, really shows how committed the SAPS is in enforcing the authority of the State to ensure that all people in this country, are safe. In closure, I would like to acknowledge the ‘Take a child to work’ initiative for having enjoyed unrivalled success as a platform to inspire young girls and boys to visualise greater heights of success, they would never have dreamt possible to achieve.

This initiative reminds young people that they have the power to make their greatest dreams come true, by believing in themselves. This initiative is truly empowering young learners by exposing them to the real workplace. The initiative promotes dialogue around the needs of the learners, their role in socio-economic development, the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of the youth. The SAPS is also proud to showcase our workplace to you as young learners, and to affirm with confidence that policing is an ideal career of choice for you.

We do this with the clear understanding that the future of this country lies in the calibre of young men and women we are raising today to be future leaders, managers, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, business owners, members of Cabinet and even future presidents. You are all equally important to the success of South Africa, and we treasure each one of you.

May you remember this day and remain focussed on making the right choices in your personal life, and for the future. Remember, you hold your future in your hands.

Thank you.