CAPE TOWN, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday lamented the tragic deaths of several pupils in recent weeks, saying the society "is failing our children."
"As a society, we need to build a culture of responsibility" to better protect children, Ramaphosa said in his weekly address from the Desk of the President.
He was speaking after the nation had been shocked by several incidents in which a number of children died in different circumstances.
Last week, 13-year-old Enock Mpianzi drowned while attending an orientation camp in the North West Province. His death came after another 13-year-old boy, Keamohetswe Seboko, drowned in a swimming pool at a primary school in Magaliesburg, near Johannesburg. In another incident, two children died at the Lekgolo Primary School in Limpopo Province when a truck crashed into a wall that collapsed on them.
The children lost their lives for reasons that were entirely preventable if only adults had exercised due care and responsibility, Ramaphosa said.
Too many children find themselves in dangerous situations, whether it is on a makeshift raft on a river or being left alone in a shack with a paraffin lamp, said the president.
There is more than negligence and neglect at work, he said.
Many children are targeted by sexual predators, criminal gangs and drug sellers precisely because they are vulnerable, Ramaphosa said.
He mentioned six-year-old Nathlia Pienaar, who was killed in the crossfire between gangs earlier this month in a gang-infested district in Cape Town.
Many other children fall victim to gang wars, Ramaphosa said.
South Africa has witnessed far too many tragedies, and too many young lives have been lost, too many children hurt and traumatized, he said.
"As a society, we need to be more diligent and more active in protecting our children from these and other dangers," Ramaphosa said.
Fathers need to be present in the lives of their children as too many women have to raise children on their own, which often limits their prospects and those of their children, he said.
A culture of responsibility should be embraced in particular by all those in society who occupy positions of authority and influence, whether they are religious leaders or politicians, traditional leaders or celebrities, said Ramaphosa.
Elected officials and public servants are entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens, he said.
Through their words and actions, they should seek to build a better society in which all are appreciated and cared for, the president added.