30 May 2017
 
For immediate release
 
A public letter to all eThekwini residents by Mayor Zandile Gumede condemning attacks on African immigrants in the wake of unconfirmed reports of children being kidnapped from schools
 
I am writing this letter to appeal for calm and call on members of the public to refrain from circulating false information that cause unnecessary panic and conflict in communities.
 
I have been extremely disturbed by news of women and children being kidnapped, more so during National Child Protection Week, which is marked from 28 May to 4 June.
 
As society we should unite and shine the spotlight on issues affecting children, highlight successes and identify what still needs to be done. We all have a role to play in protecting children and creating a safe and secure environment for them.
 
The Bill of Rights in the Constitution specifically states that every child has the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation. South Africa has also drafted legislation to protect children which is based on the United Convention of the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
 
Protections are 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.
 
I was therefore disturbed to hear that children had been abducted in some schools in the north and south. However, after further investigation, it was found that the reports were baseless.
 
I also learnt that members of the public in the northern parts of eThekwini blockaded roads yesterday, 29 May, attacking African immigrants and looting shops alleging that they were behind the alleged abductions. I categorically condemn this criminal act in the strongest term.
 
I wish to caution you against falsely accusing innocent people, crime affects all of us and can only be eradicated if society acts in unison, within the ambits of the law, to bring the perpetrators to book.
 
Violence against women and children is a societal problem which often leads to devastating and tragic consequences, such as loss of life. But let us not take matters into our own hands.
 
ENDS
 
Issued by eThekwini Head of Communications Unit, Tozi Mthethwa.
 
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