Sixteen months after it became operational, only one person deemed unsuitable to work with children has been named in the national Child Protection Register (CPR).
In a written reply to a parliamentary question tabled on Monday, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini confirmed the register was "fully operational", with an allocated budget of R1.7m.
"Only one name appears on the Child Protection Register as a person who is unsuitable to work with children," she said.
"However, there are 64 names of persons who have been convicted of crimes against children, who still need to be found unsuitable to work with children by the courts that convicted them, as required by the Children's Act."
The CPR, which was created in terms of the 2005 Children's Act, consists of two parts.
Part A is a record of all the reports of abuse or deliberate neglect of a child, and all convictions of people on charges involving such abuse or deliberate neglect.
Part B is a record of people found to be unsuitable to work with children, and is supposed to be used to protect children from them.
The parliamentary question was posed by Democratic Alliance MP Patricia Kopane.
In a statement later on Monday, Kopane queried how it was possible that only one name appeared in the register.
"Last year, there were 4 000 reported cases of ill-treatment of children. And we know that South Africa is a world capital for 'baby rape' and the sexual abuse of minors - it is estimated that around 30 000 children per year are victims of sexual abuse.
"In this context, it is difficult to believe that only one person in the entire country is prohibited from working with children. The minister... has some explaining to do," she said.
The DA also wanted to know why it cost R1 725 849 to develop and maintain a CPR that contained but a single name.
"It is essential that we have a Child Protection Register to safeguard our children from those who prey on them. But it is impossible to do so if the register is in a shambles."
Kopane said she would be calling on Dlamini to appear before the social development portfolio committee to explain herself.