E Cape education minister says children have no rights

No child under the age of 21 who are still dependent on their parents for food and shelter has any rights, the minister of education in the Eastern Cape, Mandla Makupula, allegedly told a debating contest over the weekend.

The Eastern Cape’s Dispatch Online on Tuesday quoted the minister saying: “For you, rights come later in life when you are independent, finished studying and have your own place to stay and your own car. That is when you can start talking about rights.”

Makupula was reportedly addressing the Bhisho legislature, where hundreds of pupils were attending the provincial schools’ debate on Premier Noxolo Kiviet’s state of the province address.

He allegedly referred to an Eastern Cape boy who took his father to court after he was forced to attend initiation school. This would not have happened in his home, he reportedly said.

“I asked myself what was wrong with that boy. His father did go to the initiation school, but because of the rights now, he did not want to go there himself … I wish he could have been my child, I would have hit him on the head with a knobkerrie and he would have gone to that initiation school crying.”


Rights groups have reacted with outrage saying his comments show “an astonishing misunderstanding of the constitutional rights”.

'Disregard the rights of children'
The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the Centre for Child Law said they “have no confidence in an MEC for education who would brazenly disregard the rights of children”.

The two groups have been involved extensively in the fight for the right to basic education in the province including court action over desks and chairs and teachers’ vacancies.

Regional director of the LRC, Sarah Sephton, told the Mail & Guardian that Makupula’s comments are an example of “the state of chaos in the Eastern Cape department of education".

“His comments aren’t so surprising when you have an minister who doesn’t think it’s very serious that there are over 6 000 teacher vacancies in the province and the department has made no indication to schools that it is dealing with the matter urgently,” she said.

Last year, the LRC filed court papers on behalf of 17 schools and their hundreds of teacher vacancies. The matter was settled out of court a week ago with the department agreeing to fill the vacancies. The vacancies at the rest of the province’s schools are still to be addressed, Sephton said.

Shocking and irresponsible
Director of the Equal Education Law Centre, Dmitri Holtzman, said the minister's statement was “shocking and irresponsible”.

“In the context of human rights month and many examples of rights being violated in the education context specifically, these comments are even more outrageous,” he said.

“The minister must be reminded that the Constitution not only makes provision for the rights of children but says the rights of children are paramount in any context relating to the child … If the minister did in fact make these statements it would be very unfortunate if there was no disciplinary action brought against him.”

The Eastern Cape education department did not respond to questions at the time of publication.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Fort Hare students test positive for Covid after partying

The 30 students, who went to a bash at a tavern in East London, were not wearing masks, did not sanitise their hands nor keep to social distancing regulations.

Time the state drilled down into water scarcity at schools

When the hard lockdowns kicked in it was discovered that 3 000 schools didn’t have an adequate water supply. But this is not a new problem

The ANC’s clean-up mission is causing a standoff

ANC factions in several provinces are failing to abide by the dictates of the NEC’s decision that leaders who face corruption charges step aside from state and party posts

ANC family tries to run black farmers off their land

The politically connected Nelani family is suspected of thwarting a couple’s decade-long attempt to formalise the lease for the state-owned land they have farmed productively for 31 years

ANC won’t rake up its bad apples

The ruling party faces severe criticism over its reluctance to deal with leaders who are facing investigations, and its NEC is accused of selective morality

The PPE bonanza and how ‘flukes’ made people millions

More than R10-billion has been spent on PPE. But healthcare workers say they are not getting enough masks and other gear to keep them safe from Covid-19. Sarah Smit, Paddy Harper and the M&G Data Desk dug into the numbers
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Fake trafficking news targets migrants

Exaggerated reports on social media of human trafficking syndicates snatching people in broad daylight legitimate xenophobia while deflecting from the real problems in society

It’s not a ‘second wave’: Covid resurges because safety measures...

A simple model shows how complacency in South Africa will cause the number of infections to go on an upward trend again

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion

Unisa shortlists two candidates for the vice-chancellor job

The outgoing vice-chancellor’s term has been extended to April to allow for a smooth hand-over
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday