Christina Nomdo gets asked tough questions in provincial meet where thorny subject of recruitment into Cape gangs addressed. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Christina Nomdo gets asked tough questions in provincial meet where thorny subject of recruitment into Cape gangs addressed. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Children’s Commissioner put through her paces during committee briefing

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Sep 3, 2021

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Cape Town - Children’s Commissioner Christina Nomdo was put through her paces by members of the provincial legislature who had a stack of tough questions about her powers, her budget and what plans, if any, she has to protect children from recruitment into gangs on the Cape Flats.

Nomdo had been invited by the Standing Committee on the Premier and Constitutional Matters to brief them on the operations and the progress made in the setting up of the office of the Commissioner. Also at the briefing was Western Cape Director General Harry Malila.

Committee chairperson Ricardo Mackenzie (DA) wanted to know whether the Commissioner was working with schools and the police and how she was going about partnerships with lobby groups.

He also asked whether there had been discussions with the provincial government.

Al Jama-ah MPL Galil Brinkhuis wanted to know what the Commissioner’s plan to stop children being recruited into gangs on the Cape Flats.

“We understand the Children’s Commissioner's office is under-resourced, but our children on the Cape Flats are facing gangsterism every day, some are even carrying guns; what is her office going to do about this?”

Freedom Front Plus MPL Peter Marais said he feared that the Commissioner’s office was hamstrung from the beginning.

“The Commissioner can only advise members of the executive council of her needs, if they disagree, she can then approach the legislature, but in this case, the party running the provincial government is also the majority in the legislature.

“I can foresee problems for the Commissioner’s office. All the main departments she deals with, Social Development, Education, Health and Human Settlements have had their budgets slashed.

“How does the Commissioner hope to overcome these hurdles? Will she need more powers?”

Leader of the opposition in the legislature, Cameron Dugmore (ANC), said the Children's Commissioner would always struggle to reach the broader mass of children if she didn't deal with structures in schools such as Representative Councils of Learners or RCLs.

OPTIMISTIC: Christina Nomdo

On the concerns that her office and powers were restricted, Nomdo said she had a great relationship with the various heads of department in the provincial government and was not concerned that they would stand in her way or make her work difficult.

“If people do become stubborn, then the lobbyist in me is going to become even more stubborn about what needs to be achieved.

“You can bet your bottom Rand that as legislators and this committee, you will hear about it when I have significant blockages with officials or if I think they are going astray.”

She said she had met with the recently appointed provincial police commissioner Thembisile Patekile and the two of them had discussed how they would work together with regards to youth well-being and rights.

On staffing for the commissioner’s office, Malila said that the Commissioner’s office now had a deputy director for investigations and advice and an assistant director for investigations and advice and that a full-time personal assistant from the department has been assigned to the office.

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