National drive aims to wipe out child labour

The South African labour department is on a national drive to stamp out child labour, according to the government news agency, BuaNews.

The South African labour department is on a national drive to stamp out child labour, according to the government news agency, BuaNews.

At the last count in 1999, more than 4,8million of South Africa's 13,4million children between the ages of five and 17 were involved in some form of economic activity, which is illegal in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

The act states that it is illegal to hire anyone aged 15 or younger.

The Campaign Against Child Labour began on April 16 and will end on May 16.

"Children between the age of 15 and 17 are only allowed to work if there are protective mechanisms in the working environment," said department spokesman Zolisa Sigaba.

Sigaba said that it was estimated that more than 50million children in sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of five and 14 were economically active.

The director of the Campaign Against Child Labour, Francesca Velaphi, said that Aids, poverty and being too old for their class resulted in many children seeking jobs.

Velaphi said that if labour inspectors stopped a child from working, then the child needed to be offered an alternative, like help to gain access to social grants.

The justice system also needed to clamp down on adults who used children to commit crime, she added.

"These adults should be forced to take responsibility. We must not let the children face the music alone," Velaphi added. - I-Net Bridge

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