Events

Family advocate takes its services to Soshanguve

By Glory Msungwa, Internal Communication

In an effort to promote awareness on issues around families whilst increasing knowledge on the role of the Office of the Family Advocate in protecting and promoting the rights of children, Deputy Minister John Jeffery hosted an International Day of Families at Soshanguve, Pretoria recently.

The event, which took place at Block F, Falala Gymnasium, Soshanguve on 15 May 2015, is observed internationally as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. The day stresses the importance of having healthy and happy relationships with family and relatives as well as highlighting different areas of interest and importance of families.

This year’s International Day of Families was aimed at promoting gender equality and rights of children within families. It also ¬†emphasised the prevention of family violence through fair family law frameworks and a variety of interventions.

Addressing Soshanguve community, Deputy Minister Jeffery said; “There are many benefits when making use of the family advocate services. If the parties reach an agreement on disputed issues, the matter does not proceed to trial and this reduces cost and time.”

Highlighting other avenues of consulting with the Office of the Family Advocate, he added that this includes any application for the variation of a custody, guardianship or access order, or an application for the definition of a customary marriage.

The services further include an application by an unmarried father for custody, access or guardianship to his minor or any other matter involving minor or dependent children, in instances where the court has specifically ordered the Family Advocate to intervene.

“In order to protect minor children, the department has, over the past 20 years, been committed to ensuring the protection of children in our society. To address the neglect of children and youth, we have identified child maintenance as one of its key priorities,” Mr Jeffery expressed.

Chief Family Advocate, Petunia Seabi-Mathope stressed the importance of equal parenting. “Everyday we open files of fathers who have never seen their children. It is important for both parents to be in the child’s life. Even after divorce, let us do the right thing for the children until they turn 18 years,” she emphasised.

Giving a message of support, a representative from Dads in the Picture, an organisation of like-minded fathers, inspired by the childhood memories of Mr Meshack Kekana, who saw a need for all fathers and male adults to play an active role in the lives of children, Mr Neo Matsunyane, encouraged fathers to take responsibility in the upbringing of children in a safe environment. “All parents must participate in their children’s life. I also encourage fathers to know the men that are raising their children. A line of communication must always be open between parents,” he pleaded.

Ms Maria Mhlongo, a community member from Soshanguve Block PP thanked the department for organising such an event, as she acquired more knowledge about the office of the Family Advocate. “I, however, want to appeal to the department to hire more staff to deal with maintenance at the Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court as I have experienced problems in this regard,” she expressed.

During the question and answer session the community raised issues of men who are convicted of rape and want to be part of their children’s lives. Residents also wanted to find out if the community development workers are allowed to assist in reporting cases of abuse or negligent on behalf of a family that fears victimasation.

Other stakeholders who graced the event were, Tshwane Metro, the Departments of Labour, Health, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), South African Police Services (SAPS) and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Shintu Arts and Culture entertainment.

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Published: 19 May 2015