Her passion for working with vulnerable people to find solutions to their problems motivated Ms Makhosi Mpanza (43) to read for a Master of Laws in Child Care and Protection which led to her graduating at UKZN in May.

Growing up in Inchanga and working as a social worker at Childline KwaZulu-Natal, Mpanza knows that despite the legislative frameworks intended to safeguard children in South Africa, there is still daily abuse of children and not all instances are reported. Hence, her LLM study titled: A Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Abuse in South Africa Advocates for Compulsory Reporting of Child Abuse Cases by Various Stakeholders in Society.

The study focused on prosecutors, police officers, psychologists, teachers and social workers as mandated reporters as these professionals work the most with children. However, increased efforts to protect children from abuse requires numerous, diverse interventions. The study recommends that mandatory reporting practices be reviewed on a regular basis in order to address specific barriers to reporting. Mpanza said: ‘Before reporting abuse of any kind, both practitioners and the public need to be enlightened about the rights of children and their responsibilities, if not legal then moral. In order to recognise abused children and those at risk of abuse, public health officials, teachers and all individuals working with children must be trained in the identification and reporting of child sexual abuse.’

She believes that a good starting point would be to improve existing efforts to ensure every child’s safety. As a social worker at Childline KZN, Mpanza provides psychosocial/therapy services to children and families affected by abuse and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and also prepares children for court.

She recently registered a private practice under the name Makhosi Mpanza Private Practice (PTY)LTD located in Westville, Durban where she specialises in therapy services to children and families affected by abuse, children who abuse children, behavioural problems, court preparation programmes and relationship/family stressors.

On her new qualification, she said: ‘This qualification will contribute to my career as I am gaining a deeper understanding of the law that protects children.’

Mpanza is thankful for the support she received from her family and supervisor Dr Annie Singh at UKZN’s School of Law.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan