One of the many frustrations faced by motorists in South Africa must be the danger of potholes. Potholes damage cars and even worse, cause road accidents. That being said, a group of 10 boys from Cape Town have created a solution to help motorists drive without damaging their vehicles. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives IOL a GLAD[1] for reporting this story, positively portraying the children and accessing them.

The article titled, “Cape Town teens fixing community’s roads one pothole at a time” (IOL, 10/09/20) is about 10 young boys aged between 12 and 15 years from Hillcrest, Eerste River in Cape Town who decided to close potholes in their area after witnessing an accident and seeing motorists struggling as they tried to manoeuvre around the potholes.

One of the two boys interviewed and quoted in the article, 12-year-old Damian Stalmeester says, “While we were playing in the street, we watched how cars would either drive in the holes or around it, drive off the road or on the oncoming side avoiding the damaged road. We came up with a plan of how we can prevent another accident and that was to work on the road. The council doesn’t fix the roads properly but we are available.”

Damian goes on to say, “Our parents know we are here everyday and they are fine with it. They don’t have cars, but we are doing this for the good of the community.”By interviewing these children, the journalist adhered to The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC)[2]  Article 7 which states, “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 law.”

South Africa ratified the ACRWC in 2000.

MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media[3] also urge media to access children by stating, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them.”

Having children speak in media coverage of them especially when in their best interest enriches those stories with their perspectives.

It is not only commendable that the journalist, Mandilakhe Tshwete accessed these boys but that they also reported on  a service delivery issue where children have  taken it upon themselves to contribute to the safety and wellbeing of residents. The fact that the children are photographed and shown in a video in action is also commendable.  We applaud IOL and the journalists for portraying these children as active citizens who do not wait upon local authorities to fix a problem faced by their community.  

MMA encourages IOL to continue reporting on issues affecting children and afford the children an opportunity to express their views when it is in their best interest to do so. Well done!

By Msizi Mzolo

[1] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them


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