Many of the other kids scrambling about the dirt diamond in Gayaza are also orphans raised in poverty, says volunteer   coach John Bosco Sempa

Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu launched the annual Child Protection Week campaign on Sunday in Kimberley in the Northern Cape, under the "Protecting South African Children, 30 years on" theme.

The minister noted that South Africa has come a long way and achieved a lot as a country, especially when it comes to protecting and promoting the rights of our children. However, she acknowledged that there are still numerous challenges that need to be dealt with.

During the launch, she explained that the country had gone through "deliberate transformation and one of the key priorities for the government was to ensure the protection and upholding of human rights including the rights of children," SA News reported.

Zulu shared that the government has invested in children's future in various ways including education, health, access to clean water, health, and electricity as well as the biggest social assistance program, which is aimed at child protection.

She went on to share that the government's vision is to make South Africa a better place for kids and young people so that they feel happy, healthy and confident. The minister said that these initiatives will empower the young generation to reach their full potential.

The minister further said that the "one thing parents said they really want is for their children to take education seriously and that their children remain in school to improve their chance to build a brighter future for themselves and their country."

Zulu also acknowledged the high levels of violence against children in South Africa, recalling one of the tragic incidents when a 6-year-old Joslin Smith went missing from Saldanha Bay on Feb. 19 and still missing.

"Hers is a sad story of many children in our country whose rights are violated and robbed of their childhood," she said.

Aside from this, the minister also noted that teenage pregnancy is a big issue in the country and the department is deeply concerned about the alarming numbers across the country including the Northern Cape, with John Taolo Gaetsewe and Frances Baard as leading districts.

"We must act now to stop this! While we encourage teenage mothers and fathers to remain in school and complete their studies, we must work together to stop teenage pregnancy in the first place," she said.

She also delved into the importance of family as the "best first line of defense and support in the protection of children."

"That is the reason why over the years we have taken deliberate and decisive action to implement child-family-oriented programs," the minister added.