Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is giving a GLAD to both Daily Sun and Mail and Guardian for great reporting and outstanding portrayal of children carrying themselves as active citizens leading environmental projects and making sure that roads are safer for the community they live in.
Daily Sun’s article titled, “KIDS FIX KILLER ROADS! (05/07/2021) by Thokozile Mnguni reports on a group of children living in Kekana Gardens in Hammanskraal, Tshwane who took it upon themselves to find and implement a solution to a problem facing their community. According to the article, the community has been struggling for years with speeding motorists who put in danger the lives of children as they sometimes play on the streets. Already a child nearly died after being hit by a taxi on one of the community’s roads. The article also explains how the community through the area councillor have tried to get help from the Tshwane municipality but have not received any as the municipality’s response was that it is almost impossible to create speed humps on a gravel road. The children, according to the article, took it upon themselves to erect speed humps on the same gravel road that the municipality could not put up humps on.
Photographs attached to the article show children busy building the speed humps to make sure that cars do not speed anymore while driving past the area. One of the images has a caption that reads, “Children building their own speed hump to slow down speeding motorists after one of their own was hit by a speeding car.”
The photographer, Raymond Morare pictured the children in action as responsible citizens using their time to help the community end a challenge which has become a concern for public safety.
Furthermore, the journalist, Thokozile Mnguni interviews the children thereby promoting their right to freedom of speech. Thapelo Maluleka, a 10-year-old is quoted in the article saying that they like helping their parents, even though taxi drivers insult them.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) which South Africa ratified in 2000 outlines in Article 7, “Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by the law.”
Mail and Guardian’sarticle titled, “My 10-year-old Earth champion” (09/07/2021, p.19) reports on a 10-year-old who is an environmentalist and deeply passionate about saving the environment. The article includes a bright picture of a smiling Romario Valentine wearing a t-shirt with animals on it. According to the article by Sheree Bega, Romario started his environmental activism when he was six years old. In the article, his mother describes him as an ‘earth shaker’ who has led various environmental campaigns in his community. The article tells readers that the child managed to raise funds for 900 endangered birds in uMngeni, completed 164 beach clean-ups, and that he is also promoting the planting of acacia trees.
The child is quoted widely in the article. He is knowledgeable about the issues and a testimony of this is when he is talking about the illegal trade of endangered birds.
“My aim is to stop them from becoming extinct,” says Romario in the article.
Climate change is a critical issue and MMA has published a few reports on the coverage of this. Parts of the reports highlight the contributions of young activists. The journalist did a great job by getting the child’s perspective and this strengthened and enriched the article. We also commend the journalist for making the child the central focus of the story.
According to MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so the media should try and include them.”
The two articles by Daily Sun and Mail and Guardian help to amplify children’s voices in the media. According to MMA’s 2020 report on media’s coverage of children, children are marginalised and rarely given an opportunity to express their views in the media. The report shows that only 7% of children’s voices were heard in the stories about them in 2020. It is therefore encouraging to see that both articles have accorded to the children a platform to have their voices heard.
MMA congratulates Daily Sun and Mail and Guardian for reporting that promotes children’s rights to participation and speech and positively portrays the children involved as active citizens doing amazing things for their community and for the world. We would like to encourage both media to continue reporting on stories about children and afford the children opportunities to make their voices heard when in the children’s best interest.
Written by Jacques Ndong
Edited by Lister Namumba
 GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them
The following is the response to the commentary from Daily Sun;