Safety initiative for Durban street kids

THE Safer Cities unit in Durban says street children have been educated on the dangers of encountering paedophiles who might flock to the country during the World Cup.

THE Safer Cities unit in Durban says street children have been educated on the dangers of encountering paedophiles who might flock to the country during the World Cup.

Head of the unit Martin Xaba said yesterday the city had run workshops with the children and law enforcement agencies on the dangers of paedophilia.

Last month international child trafficking expert Professor Susan Kreston, speaking at a conference on child prostitution and the World Cup, warned that: "Whereas 99percent of the fans are coming here for good and valid purposes, 1percent will use the World Cup as a shield, to go out looking for street children to exploit sexually."

But a street child NGO in the area, Shonaphansi Street Child Organisation or Sisco said they felt the city had not done enough to protect vulnerable children.

The organisation accused the municipality of dragging its feet in setting up a "collective forum of street child organisations" to deal with the problem of street children.

"We approached the city months before the World Cup to work towards forming a collective body of street child organisations to work with the children during the tournament.

"This has not panned out and now there is no formal body that is going to see to the street kids," spokesperson Thamsanqa Dlamini said.

Dlamini said the envisaged plan would have seen street children taking part in an intensive holiday programme during the entire World Cup.

"We can see that Durban's street child organisations have to work together to solve the problem."

However, Xaba said while the plan is not ready for implementation, they would effect a programme by the end of June as they wanted a long-term solution to the problem.

"We decided not to rush the formation of the forum. We have realised that there is a gap in the various street child organisations and we plan on addressing it in the forum."

He said the first and second phase of the forum was already off the ground with the city having collated data on how to move forward.

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