CAPE TOWN, -- The Cabinet has commended the recent incidents of child labour, where minors were found working on farms in the South African provinces of North West and Free State.

This follows the discovery by the authorities of 23 under-age children, who were taken from North West Province villages to farms in Free State Province to work as seasonal farm workers.

The children were saved by Department of Labour officers, with help from the Department of Social Development. They lived in squalid conditions and were not paid the minimum wage. The children have been taken to a place of safety while a case of child labour has been opened against a farmer.

In a statement issued after its meeting here Thursday, the Cabinet said child labour is unacceptable abuse and exploitation of vulnerable children. Our children are the future of the country. The Cabinet condemns all forms of child labour and calls on all South Africans to remain vigilant at all times and report those violating the principles of our Constitution.

The Cabinet commended members of the public who alerted the Department of Labour which, together with the Department of Social Development, acted swiftly to deal with the matter.

The Cabinet is pleased that the affected children have been relocated to places of safety. The Department of Labour will intensify inspections and work together with law enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators to book, cabinet said.

The South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996), together with the Children's Act, 2005 (Act 38 of 2005), clearly directs that all children between the ages of seven and 15 are compelled to attend school.

According to the law, parents and guardians should ensure that children of this age group are registered and attend school regularly or face implications of not abiding.