Africa World

Wed 18 August 2021:

While South Africa was experiencing the first outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, girls aged 10 to 14 became pregnant and gave birth. Until March of this year, the trend of reported underage pregnancies and deliveries continued.

Recently, the Gauteng Department of Health revealed that 23,226 young girls fell pregnant between April 2020 and March 2021.

From these, 934 babies were delivered by girls between the ages of 10 and 14.

It was a question from the Democratic Alliance in the Gauteng legislature that led to this shocking revelation.


The department disclosed in a written reply that more than 23,000 teenagers – some of them underage and barely halfway through school – fell pregnant within a year.

Mokgethi said, however, her department did not have the profiles of the type of man who fathered these children.

She said cases of statutory rape (sexual contact with a person who is under the age specified by law) were reported by health-care social workers at hospitals and clinics to the Department of Social Development, and by SAPS.

“There are no statistics collected specifically on statutory rape by the Department of Health. The cases are reported to SAPS and arrests remain their mandate,” Mokgethi said.

The details of teenage pregnancies in Gauteng were revealed by the provincial Health MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, in her written reply to questions by the DA’s spokesperson on social development, Refiloe Nt’sekhe, in the provincial legislature on Tuesday.

Researcher at the University of Johannesburg Lisa Vetten on Tuesday said it was important to highlight that the pregnancies of girls below the age of 16 are a crime.

She said these must be thoroughly investigated: “What are the circumstances of those girls? How did they fall pregnant? Was it rape? If so, then the necessary criminal action needs to follow.”

Meanwhile, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was concerned by the latest figures.

“I am really saddened by the number of learners that are pregnant. I must be honest, it is something that touched me. Those numbers are huge and are shocking, we can’t tolerate that in our province.”

He’s planning to set up an urgent meeting with his counterparts in the health and community safety portfolios to discuss this predicament.

Nt’sekhe said the DA demanded the Gauteng departments of Social Development, Education and Health intensified their campaigns against teenage pregnancy “to 365 days a year” and make teenage pregnancy prevention a priority in schools.

“We also urge parents and guardians, as well as different stakeholders, to work with government departments to assist in curbing teenage pregnancy – a societal issue that is affecting young girls.

“Teenage girls should be taught about the consequences of teenage pregnancy and preventative measures to curb this. As for girls who are under the age of consent, they should also be taught their rights in this regard and to know that at no point is anyone allowed to force themselves on to them.

“The future of our girls can be saved through behaviour change with the correct knowledge and guidance provided by the provincial government,” she said.

(with agencies) | FILE PHOTO





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