President Jacob Zuma has urged angry Diepsloot residents to “contain their anger and exercise restraint” after violent protests erupted following the discovery of the bodies of two murdered toddlers.
Zuma was addressing the Youth Leadership Summit in Midrand this afternoon where he used the opportunity to call on communities to protect all children from criminals.
Zuma was also saddened by the discovery of the bodies of two other children in Katlehong this morning.
While addressing over 200 pupils from various schools, Zuma suggested that it was time for all South Africans to protect children as if they were their own.
“This reminds us that we need to re-inculcate the time-honoured value that every child is my child.
“We urge parents and relatives to exercise maximum vigilance at all times and ensure that children are safe.
“We therefore rely on our communities to act as a buffer that protects our children from marauding criminals, and in fact, to protect children sometimes even from their own family members and relatives where necessary,” said Zuma.
It was “painful and shocking” that to hear of such incidents, Zuma said.
“Two little girls were also found dead in Kathlehong allegedly due to poisoning. There could never be any justification or reason for killing innocent, helpless and defenceless children.”
Such cruelty should not go unpunished. “We have directed the law enforcement agencies to do everything in their power to find the culprits.
“We urge the communities to contain their anger and exercise restraint. Such matters must be left to the police to handle,” he said.
Zuma said police should be allowed to investigate the murders without the violent protests directed at police, whom residents accused of not doing enough to protect children.
He also used the opportunity to urge the teenagers to register to vote in next year’s elections.
Zuma, who was welcomed with rapturous applause, highlighted many successes of the ANC government since 1994 and told the youth that the ruling party was the only organisation that had their interests at heart.
“You are on the right track therefore in prioritising leadership and education.
This means you are well poised to contribute to helping us deal with the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
“Government alone can never successfully address these challenges. As young people you need to find your own niche and contribute,” said Zuma.
He urged young people to familiarise themselves with the National Development Plan, “to help us take forward the work we have been doing over the past 19 years, aimed at achieving quality health care, water, sanitation, electricity, roads and housing. In this manner, you, as our children, especially the black majority, can have a better future than us and your grandparents.”
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