The youth of Cala, in the Eastern Cape, have been encouraged to make the most of the opportunities created through government programmes to improve their lives.

Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Andries Nel, was at the Cala Community Work Programme (CWP) for the International Mandela Day celebration.

The Deputy Minister said the CWP was targeting youth and providing them with a brighter future.

“I am aware that over a third of the population from this area are below the age of 15 years. I am aware that the Eastern Cape Government is making available Adult Education classes and providing Early Childhood Development facilities. I urge you to make the most of these.

“I am also glad that we get to visit the Cala CWP Computer Centre that has been set up to assist the youth with applying for jobs and other training opportunities. Please make the most of these facilities. It is your gateway to a better life,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to visiting the Cala Community School, where the CWP participants were painting the classroom blocks and conducting repairs.

He also praised the Tsengiwie Community Garden which is run by CWP participants.

“I believe the fruits, or should I say vegetables, of your labour are helping the local clinic by providing them with a constant source of food for their patients. The Community Work Programme is Mandela Day in action, every day,” said Deputy Minister Nel.

18 July is International Mandela Day, a day of celebration that has been recognised by the United Nations (UN) and is observed in countries around the world. The UN has also called on people to devote at least 67 minutes of their time to make a difference in communities where they live and serve others.

“I am sure that uTata Madiba would be proud of the Community Works Programme. It is the community and government working together to create a better life for all. It is how We Move South Africa Forward,” he said.

He said government is committed to keeping the ideals of Madiba alive, and to eradicate poverty. He said COGTA’s CWP is aimed at uplifting the poorest in the community.

The Deputy Minister said across South Africa, the CWP has provided 202 634 work opportunities. In the Eastern Cape, the CWP is benefitting 38 000 participants at 37 sites across the province.
“Our government is uplifting this community of Cala. We are changing lives. We are keeping the spirit of Mandela alive. We are bringing hope to this community.”

Illegal initiation schools condemned
The Deputy Minister also took the opportunity to strongly condemn illegal initiation schools which have been making headlines, claiming lives of initiates across the country.

“Let us condemn this practice of taking children without their parents’ consent. We urge parents and the community to report this to the police should you witness any such activity.

“Our children cannot be taken away in the middle of the night to these illegal initiation schools. We are looking at changing the law to criminalise the running of illegal initiation schools,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said the Eastern Cape Department of Health has set up hospitals to assist initiates who need help. The hospitals consist of tents with essential equipment and stretchers to provide intravenous fluids, antibiotics and wound care.

“21 initiates have lost their lives in the Eastern Cape, two in Limpopo and one in Mpumalanga. Of the deaths in the Eastern Cape, I’m told that 13 occurred in the OR Tambo District, three in the Chris Hani District, two in Qumbu and one in Alfred Nzo, Joe Gqabi and Buffalo City.

“We are working with Deputy Minister Obed Bapela to reduce deaths, especially at illegal initiation schools. Today, Deputy Minister Bapela is visiting initiation schools in the OR Tambo district,” he said.

He said about 22 illegal schools have been closed down in Gauteng alone and 89 children have been rescued.

“Last week we closed down an illegal school in Soweto and rescued 22 children who had been kidnapped. Some had severe burn wounds and were taken to hospital. It is believed that a panga was used for circumcision.

“We must continue this legacy of Mandela in how we treat our children during the initiation period. We cannot afford to lose any more of our children. Let us report illegal initiation schools and those who forcibly kidnap these young boys,” said the Deputy Minister. -


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