Social welfare ministry investigating cases of child labour

19 Feb 2014 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 19 FEB (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) is investigating four cases of child labour and child trafficking in the capital.
This follows information received by the line ministry on Monday that four minor girls were working as domestic workers in Windhoek households.
Deputy Director of the Labour Inspectorate, Dr Felix Musukubili said during a media briefing on Wednesday that the minors are all under the legal age of 18, and were reported missing from the Omega district in the Zambezi Region at the beginning of this year.
He said the children are from the San community, and were approached at various places by a, yet unidentified, school matron to recruit them for prospective employment in Windhoek.
“They were in Grades Four and Six at the Omega Primary School,” he said.
Musukubili added that the inspectorate was informed that two of the children had the opportunity to inform their parents of their employment in Windhoek, while the others could not do so.
“According to preliminary information, they were loaded onto a bus to Windhoek, where they were collected at a bus station by one of the employers who then distributed them among the other employers,” he said.
He added that the children were employed as domestic workers earning between N.dollars 300 and N.dollars 500 per month.
Two of the girls, both aged 14, were located in Windhoek-West and Khomasdal after their circumstances were investigated in a preliminary investigation.
Musukubili said it was found appropriate to withdraw them and place them under the care of a social worker from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare while arrangements are being made to transport the two girls back to Omega and reunite them with their parents, and make necessary arrangements to return them to school.
“The third girl, aged 11, was however sent to some village in Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region from Windhoek, to work for a certain family there, and a team of investigators has since been sent to remove that child from that house.
“The family where the child now is was contacted and cautioned, and they are willing to co-operate. Her circumstances will also be investigated,” said Musukubili,' he said.
It is not clear how the girl got to Katima Mulilo.
The fourth girl fled the house where she was employed and has since returned to Omega, but her whereabouts are not known to the inspectorate, he added. How she got home is also not known.
“We wish to use this opportunity to inform the public that child labour is a crime, as provided for in Section 3(6) of the Labour Act No 11 of 2007 for any person to employ or require or permit a child to work in any circumstances prohibited under the Act.
“A person who is convicted of the offense is liable to a fine not exceeding N.dollars 20 000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding four years or both the fine and imprisonment,” he said.
Cases of child trafficking were also reported earlier this year, but the ministry could not shed details on these, as police investigations are still being conducted.
Musukubili said the families or employers involved in employing children as well as recruiting them, will be charged once police investigations are completed.
“If the employers corporate, we will reprimand them and remove the children. But if there is serious resistance and persistence, than we will be left with no other option but to charge the employer,” he said.