Cape Town – The nominations for the Western Cape’s first commissioner for children have been whittled down to 15 names.
The standing committee on Social Development concluded the process of shortlisting candidates for the Western Cape Commissioner for Children last week.
A total of 59 nominations were received and the list was thoroughly scrutinised by members of the standing committee before it was reduced to 15, they said.
This followed a series of rigorous workshops and discussions on key performance areas that the commissioner for children is expected to fulfil during his or her tenure.
The commissioner will be tasked with monitoring, investigating, researching, educating, lobbying and advising and reporting on matters pertaining to children in the province.
Committee chairperson Gillion Bosman said: “I am pleased with the progress made by the committee thus far on the appointment of the first Commissioner for Children in the history of our country. The committee has considered all candidates, guided by chapter 3 of the act.”
Shortlisted candidates include Marlene le Roux, Christina Nomdo, Eric Atmore, Lizelle Africa, Carol Bower, Gabriela Mckellar, Joy Van der Heyden, Lukas Muntingh, Christelle Olivier, Lydia Plaaitjies, Samantha Albertyn, Ingrid Lestrade, Naqita Alexander, Zakira Mohamed and Mirinda Gaum.
Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interviews from February 18-20.
“The role of Commissioner for Children is a vital extra layer of protection to ensure that the rights, needs, and interests of children are upheld.
‘‘The work of the commissioner would also inform the Western Cape Government as to how it can serve these interests in terms of development, health, education and other important requirements crucial to a child’s holistic growth,” said Bosman.
Safer Kids ZA founder and Western Cape Child Protection Collaborative member Tony Lawrence said: “It is a fair list, with one or two surprises, and some names expected to be on are not on.
"All eyes are on this position and the final choice because this is a first for Africa. The design of the job still needs to be worked on, once the incumbent officially starts.
“I don’t have a preference, apart from hoping the person will be able to smoothly move into the job and become proactive. We’ve waited long for this.
"I hope we are not going to wait many months if not years before we see action from this person. I am also hoping this person will form a group of experts, activists, specialists and NGOs to help advise and piece together the game plan.”
Lawrence said a particular quality sought was a very good rapport with children as there should be “an open-door policy for children to come to the commission themselves to lay complaints and voice their opinions”.